Research Publication Title

Hair and Desire: Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Red Head in Venus Verticordia, 1868

Major

Mass Communication

Faculty Mentor(s)

Elissa Auerbach

Abstract

The Pre-Raphaelite painter and poet, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, frequently painted beautiful women that evoked desire: a concept that manifested itself in his numerous paintings of red-headed models. In his painting, Venus Verticordia, 1868, Rossetti portrays the model Alexa Wilding as Venus, the mythological goddess of love. The most notable attribute of this goddess is her voluminous red hair. Her thick wavy hair frames her strong face and bare chest. Behind her, blooming honeysuckles and roses complete the background. This paper will explore the ways in which Rossetti and other Pre-Raphaelite artists utilized hair to convey themes of desire and eroticism, through the trope of red hair. By examining the role hair has played in the visual art and literature of the Pre-Raphaelites, I will argue that the red-haired woman depicted are often sexually empowered and unconventional. l will also examine the origin of this trend of the use of red and its possible link to artists like Sandro Botticelli and Raphael. This association will explain why the Venus portrayed by Rossetti and her hair evoke a shift from materialistic beauty standards taught by The Royal Academy in England towards empowered redheads.

Start Date

10-4-2015 9:00 AM

End Date

10-4-2015 10:00 AM

Location

HSB 211

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Hair and Desire: Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Red Head in Venus Verticordia, 1868

HSB 211

The Pre-Raphaelite painter and poet, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, frequently painted beautiful women that evoked desire: a concept that manifested itself in his numerous paintings of red-headed models. In his painting, Venus Verticordia, 1868, Rossetti portrays the model Alexa Wilding as Venus, the mythological goddess of love. The most notable attribute of this goddess is her voluminous red hair. Her thick wavy hair frames her strong face and bare chest. Behind her, blooming honeysuckles and roses complete the background. This paper will explore the ways in which Rossetti and other Pre-Raphaelite artists utilized hair to convey themes of desire and eroticism, through the trope of red hair. By examining the role hair has played in the visual art and literature of the Pre-Raphaelites, I will argue that the red-haired woman depicted are often sexually empowered and unconventional. l will also examine the origin of this trend of the use of red and its possible link to artists like Sandro Botticelli and Raphael. This association will explain why the Venus portrayed by Rossetti and her hair evoke a shift from materialistic beauty standards taught by The Royal Academy in England towards empowered redheads.