Taurello's First Sight of Fortune

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1849


◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 9 (no. 39).

Scholarly Commentary


The drawing is DGR's only known illustration for one of his favorite works, Browning's Sordello . The text is Book IV. 779-788, which describes the moment when Henry VI, King of Sicily (1165-1197), signals his intention to establish a close alliance with the young Taurello, who left his ancestral home in Ferrara and took refuge at the Sicilian court, where he flourished, married Henry's niece Retrude, and eventually returned to Ferrara to take his position at the head of the Ghibbeline faction. The alliance with Henry is marked by the gift of the “silk glove of Constance”, Henry's wife, which in the drawing Constance is taking off.


Taurello is depicted with a bow and arrow because he was an avid hunter. The weapons also subtlely allude to the fact that he was forced into his flight to Sicily after he had been tricked into a hunting expedition.


See also DGR's sonnet on Sordello where the pivotal place of Browning's poem in the program of the PRB is clear. This drawing is signed by DGR “To Frederick G. Stephens—from his P. R. bother Dante G. Rossetti”.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s39.raw.xml