Fiammetta (For a Picture)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1878 (circa)
Date: 1878
Rhyme: abbaabbacddccd
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet
Model: Mrs. Maria Stillman (Maria Spartali)


◦ Agosta, 89

◦ Marillier, DGR: An Ilustrated Memorial, 194-195

◦ WMR, DGR Designer and Writer, 101-102

◦ Sharp, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 255-256

◦ Smarr, Boccaccio and Fiammetta

◦ Stephens, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 74-75.

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné vol. 1, 148-149.


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the Ballads and Sonnets first edition text.

Scholarly Commentary


Although the relation between Boccaccio and Fiammetta is, like that between Petrarch and Laura, fundamentally a literary one, there has been a long-standing belief in the historicity of the lady. Fiammetta was taken as the poetical name for Maria d'Aquino, the supposed illegitimate daughter of King Robert of Naples. No such person has been discovered to exist, however, and twentieth-century scholarship discounts this traditional biographical identification. It was one to which DGR, however, like nearly everyone else, adhered.

The Boccaccio/Fiammetta relation is most important for DGR's work because it sets a model for a secondary pursuit of Dante's primary idea and ideal of Beatrice. And it is perhaps more important than the Petrarch/Laura relation exactly because, as all scholars agreed, Laura was primarily a literary and aesthetic figure, not Petrarch's actual beloved.

The sonnet comprises a close commentary on DGR's painting of 1878, A Vision of Fiammetta (not the picture Fiammetta of 1866).

The constellation of related materials extends beyond the painting and DGR's sonnet. The picture was in fact inspired by a sonnet by Boccaccio that DGR translated. All three texts are inscribed on the frame of the painting.

Textual History: Composition

There is a corrected manuscript of the poem in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. This appears to be the earliest text. Two other (later) manuscripts are known: one gathered in the book of manuscript materials (the so-called Getty-Wormsley book), the other held in the library of the Delaware Art Museum.

Printing History

First published in The Athenaeum, 5 October 1878; reprinted in Ballads and Sonnets and collected thereafter.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 1-1879.s252.raw.xml