Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1850 - 1863
Subject: “The old man on the right is Lucrezia Borgia's father, Pope Alexander VI. Her brother, Cesare, smells a rose in her hair and beats time to her music on a wine-glass. Lucrezia wears a sumptuous dress [and] plays music for a dancing boy and girl who wear gold and black costumes” ( The Pre–Raphaelites , Tate 1984, 244 ).


◦ Fredeman, Correspondence, 62. 65.

◦ Grieve, Art of DGR: Pre–Raphaelite Period, 51-56.

◦ Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial, 38-39

The Pre–Raphaelites , Tate 1984, 253-254

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1 15-16.

Scholarly Commentary

Production History

The little watercolour originated as a differently-titled drawing of 1850 (see commentary for “To Caper Nimbly in a Lady's Chamber/ To the Lascivious Pleasing of a Lute”). George Boyce bought the watercolour in 1853 or 1854 under its original title, but in 1858 DGR took the picture back and repainted it as a scene from the domestic life of the Borgias. In 1862 he again asked Boyce to borrow the picture, this time in order to make a slightly enlarged replica “to be commenced by my pupil [Walter Knewstub] & finished by myself” (see the letter to Boyce, 20 October 1862, Fredeman, Correspondence, 62. 65 ).


According to Grieve, this original frame “appears to be one of the earliest designed by the artist” ( The Pre–Raphaelites , Tate 1984, 254).


Swinburne's influence may well have brought DGR to change the picture's subject in 1858. Lucrezia Borgia was a great favorite of his, and he was in fact preparing at the time to write an elaborate pastiche account of her.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s48.raw.xml