The Bower Meadow

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1872
Model: Alexa Wilding (Wilding is the woman in the right foreground)
Model: Mrs. Stillman (Marie Spartali Stillman is in the left foreground)


◦ Fredeman, Correspondence, 72.10.

◦ Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial, 171-172.

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 128-130 (no. 229).

◦ Wildman, Visions of Love and Life, 279-280.

Scholarly Commentary


“Using a canvas which already bore a landscape background painted in the company of Hunt at Sevenoaks, Kent, in 1850. . .—his only attempt at the Pre-Raphaelite outdoor method—Rossetti devised a clever composition, balancing seated and dancing female figures in a rhythmic harmony of complementary reds and greens. An early study in pen and ink . . . shows a winged child between the two musicians, holding a bird. This may suggest a more symbolic concept of music, earthly and heavenly, and perhaps by implication also of love, human and divine. . . . The figure running across the distant meadow strikes an additionally enigmatic note” ( Wildman, Visions of Love and Life, 280 ). Indeed, the painting has a kind of surrealist quality, an effect heightened by the strange building at the upper right.

Although the treatment is strongly abstract and symbolic, it is clear that the painting was inspired by DGR's time spent at Kelmscott during the summer and early fall of 1871. For this reason the picture should be compared with Water Willow.

Production History

Though dated 1872 on the painting, it seems certain that DGR did most of the work on the picture in 1871. Leyland was negotiating for purchase of the work in January 1872 (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 72.10 ). The painting was finally bought in June 1872.


A slightly different version of the picture, executed initially as a pen and ink study currently in the Ashmolean, evolved to a finished pastel now in the Fitzwilliam.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s229.raw.xml