Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Bocca Baciata was commissioned in 1859 by its patron George Boyce at the cost of £40. It was painted using oil as a medium on a panel with a dimension of 13.25 x 12 inches and is now at the safekeeping of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA. …
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Bocca Baciata can be said to the beginning of Rossetti’s shift in terms of style and medium in his paintings that later became the signature of his work. Bocca Baciata marked Rossetti’s beginning of painting singular female figures that evoke seduction and earthly pleasure. According to a fellow cofounder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood William The painting, just like Rossetti’s previous painting bore inscription that wrote; Bocca baciata non perde ventura, anzi rinnova come fa la luna. ‘The mouth that has been kissed does not lose its savour, indeed it renews itself just as the moon does2 II. Evolution of Dante Gabriel Rossetti as an Artist To fully understand, appreciate and decipher the meaning of Bocca Baciata on how it relate to Rossetti, it would be necessary to understand Rossetti as an artist to contextualize the meaning of the Bocca Baciata and fully understand the painting in the process. Rossetti as an artist did not employ a single theme in his works although the nature of his subjects primarily centred on women. His subject (the female) and how they were depicted evolved and it served as a mark on Rossetti’s growth and maturity as an artist and this has a significance in understanding Rossetti’s final paintings (Bocca Baciata was one of them) that became the signature of Rossetti’s work. ...
hift of style is significant because Rossetti was not only one of the most accomplished artists during his time but also cofounded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which was a movement towards a particular painting style of stressing the importance of nature3. Bearing in mind Rossetti’s involvement with the Pre-Raphaelite movement is important because Rossetti’s later works that include the Bocca Baciata was still assessed under the standard of the artistic style of the brotherhood of whom he cofounded even when he attempted to depart from it. This resulted to the harsh criticism of his later works that led many critique of the Victorian painting to judge that the best of Rossetti’s works were those whom he had painted earlier. a. The first phase (from 1848 to 1853) The female has always been a central subject among Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s work. This was already evident from his very first public artwork which was The Girlhood of Mary Virgin. What differed from Rossetti’s later work such as the Bocca Baciata is not how the subject changed but rather, on how the rendering of the subject shifted. Bocca Baciata can be said to be similar with Rossetti’s first major work The Girlhood of Mary Virgin in many aspect although not necessarily on how the women were depicted. Bocca Baciata was Rossetti’s first work that marked his shift in terms of rendering the female while The Girlhood of Mary Virgin was Rossetti’s first work that made him prominent in having the female as subjects. Rossetti as an artist during the first evolution of his works can be likened to the growth of a boy to a man where the perspective about the female change as the boy grows to puberty and become a man. In The Girlhood of Mary Virgin, Rossetti’s boyish and impressionable nature was
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