Marillier, An Illustrated
Shefer, “A Rossetti
Surtees, A Catalogue
Raisonné, vol. 1, 153.
This picture, though related in more than its name to
the Tate Gallery's Sancta
Lilias, is yet a different work.
The picture's distinctive characteristic is its set of
pictorial contradictions, which come through in the
Virginia Museum of Fine Art version. These features are no part of the
Tate Gallery's Sancta
The date on the picture does not explain the
circumstances that led DGR to undertake it in 1879. Returning at such a
late date to the
subject he had handled so elaborately in
Damozel and its many
associated works seems odd unless he had a commission to do so.
But no record of such a commission is recorded. In his Tabular List of
DGR's pictures, WMR simply lists this work, which carries no further
According to Marillier, this was “a very
popular” work. His remark is odd because the picture has
no exhibition history at all, nor do we know very much about
its contemporary production circumstances.
As in so many of DGR's pictures of ideal women, the
figure here wears the “loose-fitting dress based upon
fourteenth-century design” (Shefer 10) that he had made a special
feature of his work, beginning with The Girlhood of Mary
Virgin. Shefer points out that “this dress
symbolized bohemianism and a free style of living” (Shefer 11).
The picture is closely related to The
Blessed Damozel—indeed, it is a variant of the damozel,
as the Tate Gallery's oil
painting titled Sancta
Lilias shows: the latter is a cut down state of a version of
Damozel. Marillier says the
“may have been intended for an Annunciation
The picture is closely related to
Blessed Damozel by virtue of its pictorial connection to
the painting The Blessed Damozel.