Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe

Sleeper_Rossetti
The Sleeper, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1846-7

Shortly after the publication of Poe’s “The Raven” in 1845, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, then an art student, undertook a series of pen-and-ink illustrations of the poem. Completed between 1846 and 1848, the four drawings represent variations on the fourteenth stanza,

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose faint foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Rossetti titled each of the drawings, Angel Footfalls. As Robert Wilkes notes, “These are among Rossetti’s earliest works as an artist which even predate the founding of the [Pre-Raphaelite] Brotherhood in 1848.”

During the same period Rossetti illustrated two other poems by Poe, “The Sleeper” and “Ulalume.” The latter was begun in 1847, the same year the poem was published. In all of these early works, with the exception of the first Angel Footfalls, Rossetti’s mature style is instantly recognizable in nascency.

Angel_Footfalls_1
Angel Footfalls, illustration of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1846
Angel_Footfalls_2
Angel Footfalls, illustration of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1846
Angel_Footfalls_3
Angel Footfalls, illustration of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1847
Angel_Footfalls_4
Angel Footfalls, illustration of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1848
Rossetti_Ulalume
Ulalume, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1847-8

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