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Water Willow was a signature acquisition for the donor Samuel Bancroft. It encapsulates the aspects of Pre-Raphaelitism that were most attractive to him: it is an exquisitely executed painting of a beautiful woman, and it has an underlying real-life story that involves romantic subterfuge. The painting depicts Jane Morris, the wife of Rossetti’s good friend William Morris. Kelmscott Manor, the home that Morris and Rossetti jointly leased during the summer of 1871, is shown in the left background. It was during this summer that Rossetti and Jane became romantically attached. This painting documents the passion they shared.

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