Venus Verticordia (reduced replica)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Physical Description

Medium: watercolour
Dimensions: 14 1/4 x 13 1/4 in.
Signature: monogram
Date on Image: 1864
Note: The monogram and date are inscribed at lower left.

Production Description

Production Date: 1864
Exhibition History: R.A. 1883 (no.312); Port Sunlight 1948 (no.166)
Model: Fanny Cornforth
Note: Fanny Cornforth may have been a model for this picture, as Rossetti painted most of it during a visit with her to Paris in November 1864.
Model: Mrs. Knewstub
Note: Mrs. Knewstub, the wife of Rossetti's assistant in 1864, sat for a watercolour version of this picture and her face may originally have figured in this particular replica.
Repainting: 1877, 1883
The painting may have been partly repainted in 1877, and was retouched according to the 1883 R.A. Catalogue, when the present face was probably introduced.


Current Location: The Viscount Leverhulme
Archival History: George Rae, £105; Viscount Leverhulme; Inherited by the present owner

Scholarly Commentary


When Surtees points out that much of the picture was“done in Paris in Nov. 1864 while on a visit with Fanny Cornforth” ( Surtees, vol. 1, 100) she is implicitly gesturing to the famous stylistic turn that DGR's work made in the early 1860s (from the more chaste manner of the earlier work to the voluptuous style of the later). The picture exhibits some variations from the oil painting:“in the action of the dart and the pose of the hands, also in the fall of the hair, here worn in a fringe on the forehead; the butterflies on the halo omitted, but one is poised on the apple” ( Surtees, vol. 1, 100).

Production History

This water-color is a smaller replica done at the time (November 1864) he was working on the major oil painting of the work. He finished this work at that time, but in 1877 he retouched and perhaps repainted the work,“when the present face was introduced, which in style belongs to a later period than the date of the water-colour” ( Surtees, vol. 1, 100).


Description: “The picture represents a tall, massively-built woman?no spiritual goddess of beauty?undraped and standing in a bower of clustering honeysuckle which hides her to the waist. Above she is bowered in roses?such a glorious wealth of flowers as compelled even Ruskin's admiration, while disliking the picture itself, the painting, and everything else connected with it. In her left hand she holds the apple, the prize of her beauty; in her right a dart, upon which is poised for an instant a delicate sulphur butterfly. Others are hovering round like moths at a candle, symbolical of the lovers who adore for one day the power of Love which remains eternal. Behind is the grove of Venus, and a blue bird winging its way through space” ( Marillier 134).
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
File Name: s173.r-1.rap.xml