Woman standing behind a table

Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Physical Description

Medium: pencil or crayon

Production Description

Production Date: 1869?


Current Location: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Scholarly Commentary


The woman is standing, unclothed, her right hand reaches down to touch a table or counter top, her left carries something, perhaps a small censer or tall goblet.

Production History

The drawing is a sketch found on the verso of page 92 in the Fitzwilliam Museum's composite manuscript of “The House of Life”. The subject of the image is unclear, but it seems unrelated to the sonnet that is written on the other side of the sheet (“ Old and New Art III. The Husbandmen ”). The original composition date of the latter sonnet is 1848-1849, but this manuscript copy was probably made much later.


The drawing might well be a full length version of another sketch found in the same Fitzwilliam composite manuscript: the drawing of “ Woman with a Vessel”. The pictorial and iconographic relations that exist between these two drawings, and between these drawings and many other DGR pictures, underscores the existence of a constellation of ideas of great importance for DGR—one that radiates through the entire corpus of his work, both pictorial and textual.

Woman standing behind a table
Copyright: © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Included Text

Note: The drawing is on one side of a notebook page. The other side has a copy of the sonnet, though the two works appear to have no relation to each other.
Old and New
  • Though God, as one that is an householder,
  • Called these to labour in his vineyard first,
  • Before the husk of darkness was well burst
  • Bidding them grope their way out and bestir,
  • (Who, questioned of their wages, answered, “Sir,
  • Unto each man a penny:”) though the worst
  • Burthen of heat was theirs and the dry thirst:
  • Though God hath since found none such as these were
  • To do their work like them:—Because of this,
  • Stand not ye idle in the market-place. 10
  • Which of ye knoweth he is not that last
  • Who may be first by faith and will?—that his
  • Is not the hand which, after the set days ,
  • Shall give a future to their goodly past?
    Added TextAnd hours, shall give a future to their past?
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
File Name: sa203.rap.xml