Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Girl singing to a lute

"This watercolour of a girl in medieval dress singing and playing a lute was made while Rossetti was staying with William Bell Scott in Newcastle in June 1853. ... It has been suggested that the drawing was done by lamplight (see Royal Academy of Arts, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, exhibition catalogue, 1973, p.29), but it is as likely that the figure is shown lit by a beam of sunlight in a shadowy interior. The girl's face is a likeness of Elizabeth Siddal, but as she did not accompany Rossetti on this trip to the north, it cannot have been done from life. ... A year or two afterwards the watercolour passed into the possession of John Ruskin, who in the mid-1850s was taking a close interest in Rossetti's painting." - from the catalogue notes
Signed with initials and dated 1853
Watercolour and bodycolour, with gum arabic
22.4 by 10.5 cm.; 8 3/4 by 4 in.

ArtMagick's collection of works by Rossetti.


  1. A lovely watercolour. I just noticed that she's playing the lute backwards! (wrong hands). I guess Rosetti really wasn't much for details. It's funny, because he loved collecting instruments, but he must not have been much of a musician...and Ruskin must not have been either!

    I'm really surprised they didn't mention that in the catalogue notes!

  2. Hi Margaret,
    Thanks for pointing this out!
    At least it was titled 'Girl singing ...' instead of 'Girl playing ...' :) but, it is still backwards ... and she's still playing. :)
    Perhaps because of the way he had Lizzie turned it was done for composition reasons (probably not)... and, it does make you wonder. :)
    I do love the lighting!

  3. I checked the Rossetti archive to see if there was more information about the work, but there wasn't.
    Here's a link to a page that allows you to 'Zoom' the image:
    Rossetti Archive
    You get a somewhat better view of the hair ornament ... and can see the girl plucking the lute's string.