ROSSETTI, Dante Gabriel (1828-1882)
Plaque erected in 1906 by London County Council at 110 Hallam Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 5HD, City of Westminster
Poet and Painter
Fine Arts, Literature
DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 1828-1882 Poet & Painter Born Here
In 1928, after the demolition of the original building, the plaque was re-erected with a supplementary tablet recording its history.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a poet and painter who co-founded the influential artistic group, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Rossetti is commemorated with a blue plaque at the site of his birthplace, 110 Hallam Street (formerly 38 Charlotte Street) in Fitzrovia.
THE ROSSETTI FAMILY
Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his three siblings were all born at 38 Charlotte Street. Like Dante Gabriel, Maria (1827–76), William Michael (1829–1919) and Christina (1830–94) all became writers. Their childhood home was described by William as ‘dingy’ and ‘mostly unrespectable’. It was smaller on the inside than it looked from outside, he recalled, though it was at least ‘fairly neat’. Despite its size it welcomed frequent visitors, thanks to the connections of their father, Gabriele Rossetti (1783–1854), a writer and teacher of Italian. William wrote that:
[it] seems hardly an exaggeration to say that every Italian staying in or passing through London, of a Liberal mode of political opinion, sought out my father.
In 1928, following the demolition of the original 18th-century building, the plaque was re-erected on the large block of flats that now occupies the site. A supplementary tablet records the plaque’s history.
THE YOUNG ARTIST
While here, Rossetti displayed an early interest in literature and art: he wrote his first poem before he was five and at about the same age ‘stationed himself in the passage leading to the street-door’ and began ‘drawing his rocking-horse’. A passing milkman commented that he had seen ‘a baby making a picture’.
The house remained the Rossetti residence until 1836, when the family moved to a larger property on the opposite (west) side of the road, 50 Charlotte Street (now demolished). While there, Rossetti embarked on his artistic training at the Royal Academy.
He finally left the family home in 1848. In the same year he co-founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with his brother William, John Everett Millais and William Holman-Hunt. The group promoted flattened perspectives and an intensity of detail and colour, reacting against the classicism and genre paintings of the time. The movement, and Rossetti’s paintings in particular, became a source of inspiration for a second generation of artists including William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.
There are two other blue plaques commemorating Dante Gabriel Rossetti in London. The plaque at 17 Red Lion Square in Holborn records the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood at the house in 1848, while 16 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea was his home for 20 years, and one he briefly shared with the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne in 1862–64.