The Salutation of Beatrice

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1869; 1872; 1880-1881
Subject: “Beatrice, in two representations. The first (1869; 1872) is a half-length portrait with a cartouche in the upper left corner bearing the Vita Nuova's sonnet “Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare”. The second, later picture shows Beatrice inthe three-quarters length, walking in a street in Florence, rose bushes and jasmine growing on either side. In one hand she holds her missal and with the other gathers up her dress. In the background Love, seated on a well, shelters Dante beneath his wings.” ( Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 155 (no. 260).)
Model: Jane Burden Morris (Mrs. Morris sat for the head of Beatrice)


◦ Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial, 200

◦ Rogers, “ The Salutation of Beatrice: by Dante Gabriel Rossetti” , in The Connoisseur 153 (1963), 180-181.

◦ Sharp, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 264-265

◦ Stephens, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 50.

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 154-156.

Scholarly Commentary


The Beatrice of these pictures, with Jane Morris as the model, is the living woman Dante met in Florence. The contrast with the visionary Beatrice of the Beata Beatrix, painted first in 1864, is sharp and pertinet. The latter represents the face of DGR's dead wife Elizabeth.

This picture should also be compared and contrasted with the earlier Salutation of Beatrice picture, where DGR calls up the scene in the Vita Nuova when Dante first meets Beatrice with two attendant ladies. does not compose the scene in the distorted way that he does here. Beatrice is in this case radically foregrounded, dominating the picture and throwing both Love and Dante into recession. DGR forcefully relocates this Beatrice in reference to a current viewer of the painting (or, when we reflect on Jane Morris as the model, in reference to DGR himself).

The title of this picture can be misleading since the passage in the Vita Nuova which it references is the sonnet “Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare” (which DGR rendered in his translation as “My lady looks so gentle and so pure”). Conventionally, however, the designation “The Salutation of Beatrice” refers to a very different passage in Dante's autobiography,—near the opening, when Dante first meets Beatrice in Florence dressed in white and flanked by two other ladies. DGR rendered this event in a much earlier picture—the left panel of the diptych called The Salutation of Beatrice.

Production History

DGR conceived this portrait of Jane Morris as Beatrice twice. The first was executed in 1869 in oil, a conception with the cartouche bearing the sonnet from the Vita Nuova. This is the painting sold at Christie's on 31 May 2012. DGR did a smaller replica of this conception in watercolour in 1872. The second version, also in oil, was begun in 1880. One of his last pictures, it was found after his death in his studio on an easel, framed. It has sometimes been described as unfinished, but the painting is clearly all but finished, with perhaps some of the architectural background not quite completed. That background, a compound of Siennese and Florentine details, is based on photographs sent to DGR by his friend Fairfax Murray. DGR sent F. G. Stephens a prose description—not quite an ekphrasis—of the 1880-81 picture that Stephens could use in his art reviewing for the Athenaeum.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s260.raw.xml