The Sonnet

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

1880 April 27

Physical Description

Medium: pen and ink
Signature: DG Rossetti
Date on Image: Apr:27.1880
Note: Both signature and date are inscribed at lower left: “DG Rossetti pro matre fecit Apr: 27. 1880.” “ANIMA” is inscribed at upper left.

Production Description

Production Date: 1880 April 27


Current Location: Nicholas Rossetti
Archival History: Frances Polidori Rossetti; WMR; Harold Ford Rossetti

Scholarly Commentary


This is the original illuminated text drawing that DGR made for his mother's birthday. The drawing was laid into the front of a copy of David Main's Treasury of English Sonnets (1881), which had laid into the back a birthday poem by CR. Brother and sister then presented the book to their mother.

Production History

DGR executed this illuminated work in March and April 1880. It was first published in 1882 as the frontispiece to William Sharp's DGR: A Record and a Study. Several interesting proof copies survive.


  • Benedetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 338.
  • Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial, 198, 200.
  • WMR, Poems of DGR, with Illustrations.
  • Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné , vol. 1, 153 (no. 258).

Included Text

  • A Sonnet is a moment's monument,—
  • Memorial from the soul's eternity
  • To one dead deathless hour. Look that it be,
  • Whether for lustral rite or dire portent,
  • Of its own intricate fulness reverent:
  • Carve it in ivory or in ebony,
  • As Day or Night prevail; and let Time see
  • It's flowering crest impearled and orient.
  • A Sonnet is a coin: its face reveals
  • The soul,—its converse, to what Power 'tis due:— 10
  • Whether for tribute to the august appeals
  • Of Life, or dower in Love's high retinue,
  • It serve; or, 'mid the dark wharf's cavernous breath,
  • In Charon's palm it pay the toll to Death.
DG Rossetti pro Matre fecit Apr:27.1880


  1. image

    Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial , 198.
  2. image

    WMR, Poems of DGR, with Illustrations.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
File Name: s258.rap.xml