Troy Town

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

1870 (circa)

Physical Description

Medium: black chalk and violet wash
Dimensions: 15 3/4 x 14 3/4 in.

Production Description

Production Date: 1870 (circa)
Exhibition History: Colnaghi 1958, English Paintings and Drawings of the 19th Century (no. 31)


Current Location: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Catalog Number: 58.734
Archival History: Rossetti Sale (1883); acquired by Sir Percy Wyndham (date uncertain); sold by Colnaghi in (1958) and thence passed to its present location.

Scholarly Commentary


Although Surtees says that the picture illustrates only lines 8-28 of Troy Town, in fact it comprehends the whole of the poetic conception. Unlike Dante at Verona , then, it represents a true “double work of art” even though the pictorial conception was never fully executed. In the latter respect it corresponds more closely to Eden Bower, which is only a sketch.

Production History

Robert Browning told Julia Wedgewood (2 September 1864) that DGR executed a drawing or painting depicting the design we now know as Troy Town. The present drawing, however, was made around 1870. Perhaps DGR had indeed done the picture Browning says that he saw; if so, it is now lost. (The 1863 painting Helen of Troy is almost certainly not the picture Browning refers to.)

DGR wanted to do a painting on this subject but it was never realized. Perhaps the drawing of the serpent-entwined woman was a study for this picture.


The drawing incorporates all of the narrative elements in DGR's poem Troy Town except the final two stanzas, where Paris is introduced. It relates most particularly to the first three stanzas.


Troy Town
Description: Surtees identifies Helen as the figure kneeling at the left, facing the altar of Venus, “ offering her a double cup moulded upon her own breasts.” To the right, Venus and Cupid watch from behind a curtain (Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné , vol I, p. 123).
Copyright: Helen and Alice Colburn Fund. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Reproduced with permission. ©2000 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved.


  1. image

    Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial , 161.
  2. image

    Angeli, DGR con 107 illustrazioni , 86.
  3. image

    Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné , vol. 2, plate 311.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
File Name: s219.rap.xml