Masterpiece Mondays: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “A Vision of Fiammetta”

Vision

 

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “A Vision of Fiammetta”

Behold Fiammetta, shown in Vision here. Gloom girt 'mid Spring flushed apple growth she stands; And as she sways the branches with her hands, Along her arm the sundered bloom falls sheer, In separate petals shed, each like a tear; While from the quivering bough the bird expands His wings. And lo! thy spirit understands Life shaken and shower'd and flown, and Death drawn near. All stirs with change. Her garments beat the air: The angel circling round her aureole Shimmers in flight against the tree's grey bole: While she, with reassuring eyes most fair, A presage and a promise stands; as 'twere On Death's dark storm the rainbow of the Soul.

- Dante Gabriel Rossetti

An apple blossom could mean good fortune,

the promise of better things ahead, or preference

In this weeks painting, “A Vision of Fiammetta”, Rossetti portrays the fourteenth-century Florentine author Giovanni Boccaccio’s Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta, the story of a tragic love affair. The central figure, Fiammetta, stands against a dark backdrop, draped in a loosely-flowing red garment, her elegant hands entwining tree limbs as an illuminating glow encircles her head. The fiery red hue is repeated not only in Fiammetta’s garment and rosy lips, but also as the dark ground is interrupted by a multitude of red and white apple blossoms and by the red cardinal which floats above Fiammetta’s head. ___ The painting is meant to portray the brief moment between life and death. the short-lived apple blossoms symbolizing the temporary nature of beauty, the blood-red bird a messenger of death, butterflies symbolizing the soul, and an angel seen in the aureole around Fiammetta’s head. As she faces this moment between life and death, Fiammetta betrays little emotion, exuding instead a mysterious, allusive air. Intoxicating by their very nature, Apple Blossoms are a hopeful flower. You can use them to wish someone well, or congratulate them on a hopeful future. Apple blossoms and trees were also honored by the ancient Celts as a symbol of love, and they would decorate their bedchambers with these blossoms to entice amorous nights.

 

Sources: artplushistory.com

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