Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), Beata Beatrix, c.1864-70, oil on canvas, 86.4 x 66 cm, Tate.
There should really be an I-Max viewing of Beata Beatrix – this 2-D painting doesn’t do her justice. Throughout his life, Rossetti wrote about women that were at once real and imaginary, live muses and dead figures from the past. They appear to artists as visions, but ones they can touch and feel. My favourite is Hand & Soul, a psychedelic thriller where a medieval Italian painter meets the projection of his own soul in the shape of a mystical woman, which he paints. So… Beata Beatrix, modelled on the artists deceased wife and muse Elizabeth Siddall, is not just a portrait, but a ghost or projection. Totally Rad (if you’ll excuse my french). Sometimes words express ideas that images can’t – which is why Rossetti wrote so many poems about painting – but maybe 3-D or CGI can. I recommend a good browse of the Rossetti Archive, to see how many ghosts you can spot. LS