Carlisle Wall

Alternately titled: The Lovers

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1853 June


◦ Sharp, DGR: A Record and a Study, 150.

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 23 (no. 60).

◦ Treuherz, Prettijohn, Becker, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 173.

Scholarly Commentary


If the literary allusion to Sir Walter Scott is indeed being referenced by the picture (see commentary below), the watercolour is making an oblique prayer “That Love may still be Lord of all”.

Production History

The watercolour is dated “Carlisle 1853”, which references his visit to the city at the end of June 1853, when on a walking tour with William Bell Scott. According to Madox Brown, DGR “painted it in two evenings at W. B. Scott's at Newcastle”, shortly after the visit to Carlisle (see Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 23 ).


The picture is generally in debt to DGR's passion, particularly at this time, for border ballads (see the commentary for The Ballad of Fair Annie ). Sharp comments that the title comes “from the motto line, ‘The sun shines red on Carlisle wall’”, but the picture has no such motto line. However, the line ”The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall” is quite apt for the picture, if indeed DGR meant to recall it, as Sharp's comment (which may simply be a misquotation) suggests. The line is the refrain in the ballad sung by Albert Graeme in one of DGR's favorite poems, The Lay of the Last Minstrel (Canto VI stanza xi). The ballad tells the story of the death of a pair of true lovers.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s60.raw.xml