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For the right to engrave the design that forms the Frontispiece, the Author is indebted to the kindness of Mrs. Gabriele Rossetti and Miss Christina Rossetti.
FINE ARTS LIBRARY
SEP 5 1995 - FAEFA
Ar rare intervals in the records of memorable lives we come across the names of men who seem to have been gifted with an almost too disproportionate amount of talent in whatsoever they laid their hands to, men who, like Lionardo da Vinci, take a foremost place amongst their contemporaries, and to whom painting, poetry, literature, or science seem equally familiar. It is very often supposed that diversity of gifts means mediocrity in all, but a glance at the histories of many well-known lives tends to disprove any such supposition, while on the other hand it may be admitted that multiplicity of talents has too often militated against the due fulfilment of some special bent. Lionardo, one of the most powerful and subtle intellects as well as one of the greatest painters of his time, is an example of one so gifted and at the same time so restrained by temperament and varied interests as never to reach the supreme position in art he might have attained. We know that Michel Angelo was a painter, a sculptor, an architect, and a poet; that Raffaelle's spirit found other than merely pictorial expression; that Dante was an artist as well as the author of an immortal epic; but we never hesitate in deciding the first to
be less great in verse than in the plastic arts, the second to be a painter above all else,—though indeed of this we can hardly judge, considering that the often-referred-to sonnets "dinted with a silver pencil, such as else had drawn madonnas,” have not come down to us,—or in recognising the author of The Divine Comedy as less excellent with his brush than his pen. But certainly in this century the number of diversely-gifted men of genius amongst our countrymen alone has been remarkable, and amongst those still with us such instances may be mentioned as William Morris, poet and artist; Mr. Woolner, at once sculptor and poet; Sir Noel Paton, at once painter, sculptor, and poet; and William Bell Scott, an accomplished art-critic and painter as well as poet ;but in each of these instances there is more or less little cause to hesitate as to wherein each is specially and decisively notable. But in the case of the subject of this record it is not s0,—or, at any rate, no absolute decision can be given that will meet with almost universal acceptance. Great in both the great arts of Poetry and Painting, Dante Gabriel Rossetti held and will continue to hold a unique position. Those whose attention is specially given to literature regard him as one of the truest and most remarkable poets of his time, and greater by virtue of his poetic than his artistic powers : while those, on the other hand, whose studies or tastes concern the art of painting consider him even greater as an artist than as a poet. Nor can his own opinion be taken as decisive, for genius is often blind as to its own products and without the sure and careful judgment of later minds ; but after all the discussion is immaterial, leading to no good end, for