The Merciless Lady

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1865
Subject: “Three figures out-of-doors on a red brick seat covered over with grass. The man in the centre gazes to the right at the fair-haired girl who is playing and signing with her head thrown back. On the left a dark haired girl is trying to draw his attention to herself; beside her on the ground her glass of wine is untasted while the other two glasses are empty” ( Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 102 ).


◦ Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial, 138.

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 102 (no. 177).

Scholarly Commentary


Marillier admired this picture, which he described as “a scene of three figures sitting on a turf-lined couch in a pavilion or arbour. In the centre is a man, cross-legged, his chin on his hand, gazing with rapt admiration at the blonde-haired damsel on his left who is singing to a lute. A vapid, reckless-looking maid she is, not to be compared to the dark beauty on his right, who with gloomy frown is trying to will back her lover. On the ground beside them her glass only stands untasted; she alone is sad. There is the little tragedy—barring one only the oldest I suppose in the world—set in a field of the brightest, sunniest green, all nature rejoicing round it. Much as I admire almost all Rossetti's water-colours, I know not one that clings in the mind like this, or that produces without effort, from a purely imaginary scene, so profound an impression of actuality” ( Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial, 138).

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s177.raw.xml