La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1855
Model: Elizabeth Siddal


◦ Benedetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti., 192.

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 39-40 (no. 76).

Scholarly Commentary


See the commentary for the earliest of DGR's illustrations for Keats's famous ballad. Like others, Surtees quite reasonably questions whether the watercolour illustrates Keats's poem at all. She observes that “Fairfax Murray suggested that the figures represent Laertes [sic] leading Opelia as they resemble fairly closely the two principal figures in the First Madness of Ophelia” ( Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 39 ).

Production History

What may be a study for this watercolour dates from 1850. DGR wrote to George Boyce in early April 1857, asking to borrow the watercolour in order to make an oil version that “a friend has asked me to paint”. The oil was never executed so far as we know (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 57. 19 ). The unfinished drawing of the knight and the girl on a horse dates from 1855, which is the date signed on the watercolour.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s76.raw.xml