The German Lesson

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1869 August 4
Model: Jane Burden Morris
Model: William Morris


◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 210 (no. 603).

Scholarly Commentary


Instigated by a “great idea” suggested by Mrs. Morris, DGR sent this comic sketch in a letter to her of 4 August 1869, with the following commentary: “You see your great idea has not been sown in barren soil but has immediately borne fruit. I fear that the legitimate leglessness of the pictorial and ideal Topsy has somewhat communicated itself to the German maid in the cartoon, and even you have rather a Georgian air. But these are minor defects. The poetry and philosophy of the subject are I hope complete, while you will see that even Scriptural analogy has not been neglected” ( Fredeman, Correspondence, 69. 112 ).


The German maid is evidently giving Morris the German translations for various articles of clothing, while Mrs. Morris lies on a sofa writing. The picture of Adam and Eve on the wall is inscribed, in German, “The Earthly Paradise”, alluding ironically both to Morris's epic poem and to the domestic world of the Morrises.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s603.raw.xml