Dante Gabriel Rossetti

British, 1828 - 1882

Astarte Syriaca

Date: 1877



One of the largest and most extraordinary of all Rossetti's pictures of Jane Morris. She is portrayed as Astarte, the cruel Babylonian fertility goddess, with two torch-bearing attendants, in a composition full of tension and mannerism, glowing with deep and mysterious colours. This is the very epitome of the Rossettian Pre-Raphaelite love goddess, and Rossetti wrote a poem describing it.

"Here indeed the two attendants with their torches and upward glance seem to testify to some dark, unholy power, the cruelty that is akin to lust. The strange sights that she has seen in grave and shrine seem to have fed her beauty with lurid and terrible royalty, where she reigns in a dark serenity which nothing can appal."
(A.E. Benson, 1904)

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