Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1870 April
Model: Jane Burden Morris
Model: Willie Graham ((the son of William Graham, who bought the picture), sat for the figure of the page.)


◦ Fredeman, Correspondence, 70.8, 70.101.

◦ Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial, 131, 158.

◦ Sharp, DGR: A Record and a Study, 216.

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 121-122 (no. 213).

◦ WMR, DGR as Designer and Writer, 66, 73.

Scholarly Commentary

Production History

DGR made a quick sketch for this picture in the manuscript for the “Willowwood” sonnets that he gave as a present to William Stillman. This manuscript, and hence the sketch, probably dates from early 1870, when DGR was seeing a good deal of Stillman (see DGR's letter to Charles Eliot Norton, 22 January 1870, Fredeman, Correspondence, 70. 8 ). He set to work on the oil painting in April when he was staying at Barbara Bodichon's cottage in Robertsbridge. He told Bodichon in a letter of April 14 that he was “now doing [a portrait] of Mrs. Morris which I think about the best portrait I have made of her” (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 70.101 ). Two chalk drawings of the same subject, one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the other in a private collection, were both executed in 1868.


“Though differing in treatment, the. . .painting is closely related to the 1868 portrait of Mrs. Morris (no 372)” (see Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 121 ).


The picture takes its inspiration from Act I, scene 1 of Measure for Measure , one of DGR's favorite Shakespeare plays. “Mariana (here represented by Mrs. Morris) has been working on a piece of embroidery, but is now totally absorbed in the words of the boy's song, ‘Take, O take those lips away. . .’ which are inscribed on the lower member of the frame” (see Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 121 ).

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s213.raw.xml