William Michael Rossetti (25 September 1829 – 5 February 1919) was an English writer and critic.
Born in London
, he was a son of immigrant Italian scholar Gabriele Rossetti
, and the brother of Maria Francesca Rossetti
, Dante Gabriel Rossetti
and Christina Georgina Rossetti
He was one of the seven founder members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848, and became the movement's unofficial organizer and bibliographer. He edited the Brotherhood's literary magazine The Germ which published four issues in 1850 and wrote the poetry reviews for it.
It was William Michael Rossetti who recorded the aims of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood at their founding meeting in September 1848:
- To have genuine ideas to express;
- To study nature attentively, so as to know how to express them;
- To sympathize with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parading and learned by rote;
- And most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues.
Although Rossetti worked full time as a civil servant, he maintained a prolific output of criticism and biography across a range of interests from Algernon Swinburne to James McNeill Whistler. He wrote a study of his maternal uncle John William Polidori (physician to Lord Byron), a comprehensive biography of D. G. Rossetti, and edited the collected works of D. G. Rossetti and Christina Rossetti.
In 1874 he married Lucy Madox Brown, daughter of the painter Ford Madox Brown.
William Michael Rosetti was a major contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica. Below is a quotation from his article on Fra Angelico demonstrating his literary and art historical style.
- "The "pietistic" quality of Fra Angelico's work is in fact its predominant characteristic. The faces of his figures have an air of rapt suavity, devotional fervency and beaming esoteric consciousness, which is intensely attractive to some minds ...... the faces becoming sleek and prim, with a smirk of sexless religiosity which hardly eludes the artificial or even the hypocritical; because of this, there are some who are not moved by his work. Even so, Fra Angelico is a notable artist within his sphere,......."
Partial book list
- Rossetti, W. M. (1850). The Germ: thoughts towards nature in poetry, literature, and art London: Aylott & Jones.
- Rossetti, W. M. (1869). Essays on early Italian and German books of Courtesy London: Trübner.
- Rossetti, W. M. (1876). Walt Whitman London: s.n.
- Rossetti, W. M. (1878). Lives of famous poets from Chaucer to Longfellow: with lists of minor poets whose biographies are not included [S.l.]: Ward.
- Rossetti, W. M. (1880). American poetry: a representative collection of the best verse by American writers London: Ward, Lock.
- Rossetti, W. M. (1886). Memoir of Percy Bysshe Shelley London: Slark.
- Rossetti, W. M. (1889). Dante Gabriel Rossetti as designer and writer London: Cassell & Company, limited.
- Angela Thirlwell. 'William and Lucy: The Other Rossettis'. Yale; ISBN 0-300-10200-3
- Julie L'Enfant. 'William Rossetti's Art Criticism: The Search for Truth in Victorian Art'. University Press of America; ISBN 0-7618-1290-3