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Blessed Beatrice (Beatrix)

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Commonly read as a memorial to Dante Gabriel Rossetti's dead wife Elizabeth Siddal, Beata Beatrix (1870) takes as its subject Dante's beloved Beatrice, imagined in the autobiographical text of Vita Nuova. The picture, which represents the new direction Rossetti's work would take in the last twenty years of his life, embodies the first of the subsequent series of oil paintings that worshipped female beauty. However, more than a tribute to the power of beautiful women, Rossetti's depiction of Beatrice fuses the quotidian and the supernatural, and it does so in a way that instills the image with a powerful virtuosity and spirituality perhaps exceeding that of other Pre-Raphaelite femme fatales.