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Mrs. Rossetti

probably 1860-1861

The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum

This miniature is in fact a photograph (probably an albumen print) painted over in gouache. The over-painting has been attributed to Elizabeth Siddall's husband, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the English poet and founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, formed in London in 1848. The lavish frame in gold, opal, sapphires and diamonds (made in London) was added in 1906 by J. Pierpont Morgan, a previous owner, and it was cataloged by G.C. Williamson in the same year as "Mrs. Rossetti."

The story attached to the photograph is that, after Siddall's death in February 1862, Rossetti gave it to a nurse who had attended at the birth of Siddall's still-born child, and that it passed to the nurse's daughter, who in difficult financial times sold it to a clergyman (see G.C. Williamson, "Catalogue of the Collection of Miniatures, the Property of J. Pierpont Morgan," vol. 2, London: Chiswick Press, 1906, p. 116). This story is also told by Williamson with some variations in "Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan's Pictures, the English Miniatures, V.," Connoisseur, 8:70, June 1907, pp. 71-76, p. 75; "Stories of an Expert," 1935, pp. 36-39; and "The Cases of an Art Expert, II, The Rossetti Miniature," Country Life, 80, 11 July 1936, p. 35-6.).

The costume is correct for ca. 1860 and the portrait shows strong resemblances to Siddall as depicted in several studies and paintings by Rossetti. The pose recalls the posthumously completed painting "Beata Beatrix" (ca.1864-70), Tate Britain, London, N01279.

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Details

  • Title: Mrs. Rossetti
  • Creator: Attributed to Dante Gabriel Rossetti (English, 1828-1882)
  • Date Created: probably 1860-1861
  • External Link: For more information about this and thousands of other works of art in the Walters Art Museum collection, please visit art.thewalters.org
  • Roles: Artist: Attributed to Dante Gabriel Rossetti (English, 1828-1882), Artist: Frame: English
  • Provenance: Collection of J.P. Morgan, acquired before 1906, mode of acquisition unknown; Christies sale of Morgan's minatures, New York, 1935 ["Mitchell"? name noted in Morgan Library copy of sale catalog]; A. Jay Fink, date and mode of acquisition unknown; Walters Art Museum, 1963, by gift.
  • Object Type: photographs; portraits
  • Medium: Image: gouache, photograph; Frame: gold, bowenite, opal, diamonds, sapphires, glass
  • Inscriptions: [Inscription] Engraved on the reverse of the frame: "This represents / Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, / who on the 25th of May 1860 became the wife of / Dante Gabriel Rossetti. / In May 1861 she gave birth to a child, / and died on February 10th 1862, / having unhappily taken an overdose of Laudanum / in order to relieve a severe form of Neuralgia / by which she was afflicted. / This Portrait was painted by her husband / between December 1860 and May 1861, / and is the only portrait the artist painted / of his wife after her marriage. / He painted her portrait numberless times / before her marriage and made many sketches of her / but afterwards made one slight sketch in pencil / which has been lost / and painted this miniature"
  • Geography: Place of Origin: Paris
  • Exhibitions: Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde. National Gallery of Art, Washington. 2013.
  • Dimensions: Photograph H: 2 x w: 3 in. (5.08 x 7.62 cm); Framed with loop: 5 11/16 x 4 1/4 x 3/8 in. (14.5 x 10.8 x 1 cm); Framed without loop: 5 3/16 x 4 1/4 x 3/8 in. (13.2 x 10.8 x 1 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of the A. Jay Fink Foundation, Inc., in memory of Abraham Jay Fink, 1963
  • Classification: Painting & Drawing
  • Accession Number: 38.419

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