Retro Me, Sathana!

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

1848 July

Physical Description

Medium: pen and ink
Dimensions: 9 5/8 x 6 7/8 in.
Signature: DGR
Date on Image: July 1848
Note: Initials and date appear at lower right.

Production Description

Production Date: 1848 July
Exhibition History: Tate, 1923 (#171).


Current Location: Bolton and Bury
Purchase Price: gift
Archival History: Alexander Munro; by descent to his daughter-in-law, Mrs. J.A.R. Munro; Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Davson

Scholarly Commentary


This picture is an emblematic interpretation of the sonnet of the same title that DGR wrote in 1847. At that point, 1847-1848, the picture is clearly part of a double work of Rossettian art. Later, when DGR reimagined the sonnet for inclusion in The House of Life , the picture lost most of its significance for the sonnet.

Production History

DGR executed the drawing with this title in July 1848 and he began but never finished an oil version, which he worked at for three or four months (see Family Letters I. 99). The drawing depicts a scene that has no imagistic relation to the sonnet. The picture shows a priest walking with a pious young woman, with Mephistopheles lurking in the rear. The drawing was done in July 1848 and has much in common with DGR's Faust drawings of that period.


The drawing recalls Faust but is not specifically an illustration of that work. It operates more as an emblematic illustration of virtue being protected from threatening evil.


Eriko Yamaguchi has identified a pictorial source for this work in Camille Bonnard's Costumes Historiques (1829). The priest's garb was designed after a plate representing a fifteenth-century Podestat .


Retro Me, Sathana!
Copyright: ©Bolton Museums, Art Gallery & Aquarium BMBC

Included Text

Note: Text appears at the upper left of the drawing, on a small placard beneath the winged shield.


  1. image

    Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial , facing 17.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
File Name: s37.rap.xml