ROSSETTI, Dante Gabriel
(b. 1828, London, d. 1882, Birchington on Sea)
Ecce Ancilla Domini!1850
Oil on canvas and wood, 72 x 42 cm
Tate Gallery, London
Dante Gabriel Rossetti was one of the three important painters of the group of young artists who, weary of the conventions of history painting and genre imagery , had come together in 1848 to form the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He chose in 1850 to offer his painting representing an Annunciation or Ecce Ancilla Domini! to the National Institution (which unlike the Royal Academy, did not have a jury. This was one of the pre-Raphaelites' boldest attempts to revolutionize iconography by means of an unusual setting (the Virgin is on a bed rather than at her prie-dieu) and above all by means of a symbolic treatment of colour, with a predominance of White as the sign of virginity and a small number of notes of primary colours (blue, associated with the Virgin, the red of Christ's blood, and a faintly coppery yellow-gold in the Virgin's auburn hair. The work was unfavourably received, with the critics complaining that it was too full of ideas and in fact constituted more a symbol of virginity and femininity than a religious representation.
The painting is signed and dated "DGR March 1850".