Tutorial for Using the Rossetti Archive
The Rossetti archive is a comprehensive collection of the works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti comprised for the promotion of furthering intellectual studies in regards to the work of Rossetti. Rossetti is viewed by those who collaborated in the construction of the archive as, “…the most important and original artistic force in the second half of the nineteenth century in Great Britain.” As DGR created art of multiple mediums the site is host to media in the form of text as well as photographs of his pictures, paintings and writings as well. The genres included on the site include: double works (consist of pictures accompanied with writings), pictures, poems, prose, translations, books, manuscripts, correspondence, and material design. Other genres on the site: related texts, visual works by other artists, and contemporary periodicals are included to contextualize the work of DGR.
The efforts of many individuals and funds of a few organizations all contributed in the creation of the Rossetti archive. A few of the individual contributors include: Jerome McGann as the general editor; Bethany Nowviskie as design editor; Dana Wheeles as project manager; Keicy Tolbert, Rob Stilling, Ken Price, Patrice Calise, PC Fliming, and Michael Pickard all as research assistants; Duane Gran and Erik Hatcher as programmers. Sponsors of the archive include the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the University of Virginia. Additional funds were supplied by: National Endowment for the Humanities, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, an equipment grant from International Business Machines Corporation, and research support grants from the University of Virginia, University of Michigan Press, and J. Paul Getty Trust.
Having been completed in 2008 after four installments the archive has not been updated since. The first installment was completed in the spring of 2000 and was focused on Rossetti’s 1870 volume of poems and pictures associated with that book. In the summer of 2002 the following installment was completed and focused on DGR’s 1861 book of translations, The Early Italian Poets. Summer of 2005 hosted the completion of the third installment, which focused on his 1881 publications: Ballads and Sonnets and Poems A New Edition and related pictorial material. The final installment having been completed in December of 2007 focused on all posthumous material and ensured thorough proofreading of all the archive’s texts.
Navigating the Rossetti archive is relatively easy as functions are plainly labeled and in plain sight.
The bar across the top of the screen gives the options of: home, about the archive, exhibits & objects, search engine, bibliography, and nines. The home selection offers a brief overview of the site. About the archive offers a brief history of the archives making and a complete credit list of all contributors to the archive.
Next, the exhibits & objects option displays the content of the archive divided by genre; each genre is listed and the genres included to contextualize DGR’s work are separated from his original creations.
The search function is the next option on the top tool bar and upon clicking brings up two follow up options to search from. The first option is for a free form search in which one can search for a word throughout the entirety of the archive.
The second option is the structured search; in this option the user has the ability to search based off of certain criteria from titles to genres.
Browsing the Rossetti archive I had come across a few interesting pieces. One picture in particular that had caught my eye seemed very unusual not only for having a place in the archive, but for being drawn at all. The picture I had seen was called, “December. Man Killing Pig. Design for a tile.” The picture was strange and it seemed to have an equally bizarre entry into the archive as it was only recently known to be a product of Rossetti. The picture for a long time was thought to be the work of another artist name, Ford Madox Brown, but having discovered it to be of Rossetti’s hand it was added into the archive.
A poem on the archive I found that seemed to be quite insightful to the life of Rossetti was titled, “To Death, Of his Lady.” This poem embodies the utter disparity that had apparently overtaken Rossetti’s life after the death of his wife, Lizzie Siddal. In class we had explored another poem of Rossetti’s, “The Portrait” in which similar allusions are made. In, “The Portrait” there is a line that reads, “That day we met there, I and she/ One with the other all alone;” alluding to their oneness and true love in a connected platonic sense. In “To Death…” Rossetti says, “Two we were, and the heart was one.” This is a further allusion to the sense of platonic love he had felt between his wife and himself that was also mentioned in his other poem from class. The following line from the same poem, “Which now being dead, dead I must be, / or seem alive as lifelessly” seems to allude back to the mirror imagery from, “The Portrait.” In, “The Portrait” Rossetti plays with the notion of his image being sustained within the mirror after his death much like how her picture seems to haunt him with a false sense of life. Her death is really too much for Rossetti to bear as he cannot help but imagine himself dead with her. He feels as though he is incomplete and longs for his missing half even if it means he needs to rejoin her in death.