Hesterna Rosa

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1853, 1865
Subject: “Interior of a tent at dawn after a night of revelry. A child playing upon a lute stands on the extreme left and on the right a hairy ape is scratching itself (symbols of innocence and depravity) whilst ‘Yesterday's Rose’ has turned away her head and hides her face with her right hand” ( Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné vol. 1, 21.).


◦ Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial, 47

◦ WMR, DGR Designer and Writer, 50

◦ Sharp, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 140-142

◦ Stephens, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 30.

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné vol. 1, 21-22.

Scholarly Commentary


The picture has much in common with pictures like ‘To Caper Nimbly in a Lady's Chamber/ To the Lascivious Pleasing of a Lute’, ‘Hist!’Said Kate the Queen, and Borgia. Equally pertinent would be DGR's key early poetical work “Jenny”.

Production History

The finished drawing that DGR gave to F. G. Stevens in 1853 was “composed”, according to DGR's inscription on the picture, in 1850 but not actually drawn until 1853. Years later DGR returned to the composition and executed a watercolour replica for Frederick Craven. He was working on this replica at the end of 1864 and completed it early in 1865 (see his letters to Boyce of 27 December 1864 and to Shields of 11 January 1865: Fredeman, Correspondence, 64. 185 and 65. 12 ). Marillier records the existence of a second replica done in 1871 on a larger scale but the whereabouts of this picture, which was apparently titled “Elena's Song”. is not known.

Surtees observes that “a photograph of this drawing exists (Tate Gallery) showing the stool-legs curved, as originally designed. Later they were altered to their present form”. This being the case, DGR must have had a photograph made of the drawing very early.


The picture illustrates a passage from Sir Henry Taylor's poetical drama Philip van Artevelde , which was a favorite work in DGR's circle. See Elena's Song in Act V scene 1. The relevant text is copied below the Tate Gallery drawing.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s57.raw.xml