Saturday, June 30, 2012

The staff of the Kelmscott Press

The staff of the Kelmscott Press
by Unknown photographer
whole-plate glass negative, circa 1893

The Hammersmith Socialist Society (including Henry Halliday Sparling, William Morris and May Morris)

The Hammersmith Socialist Society (including Henry Halliday Sparling, William Morris and May Morris)
by Sir Emery Walker
12 x 10 inch glass plate negative, circa 1891-1892

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's house

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's house
by Sir Emery Walker
whole-plate glass negative, 1880s?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mrs. William Morris

Mrs. William Morris
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Red, black, and white chalk on paper
Sheet: 35 3/4 x 30 3/4 in. (90.8 x 78.1 cm)

This drawing is a study for the painting Mariana of 1870, now in the Aberdeen City Art Gallery and Museum (no. 21/8). The subject illustrates Act IV, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. Mariana sits listening to the words of a song, "Take, O take, those lips away..." The Metropolitan Museum's study differs slightly from the finished painting: there is a vase of flowers in the place of the singing boy, and Mariana holds a sycamore branch instead of the embroidery in the painting.

Rossetti set to work on the oil painting in April when he was staying at Barbara Bodichon's cottage in Robertsbridge. He told Bodichon in a letter of April 14 that he was “now doing [a portrait] of Mrs. Morris which I think about the best portrait I have made of her” (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 70.101 ). Two chalk drawings of the same subject, one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the other in a private collection, were both executed in 1868.

May Morris

May Morris
by Unknown photographer
vintage postcard print, circa 1915-1920

Gardening ?

May Morris

May Morris
by Unknown photographer
bromide print, circa 1915-1920

Monday, June 25, 2012

May Morris

May Morris
by Unknown photographer
snapshot print, late 1890s

May Morris

May Morris
by Unknown photographer
snapshot print, circa 1910-1914

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Castle Howard

Morris & Co. screen, in the chapel. 'The Legend of Good Women', derived from Chaucer's poem. Worked by Jane Morris and her sister Bessie Burden. 

Castle Howard


and on the background

This completes my old posts

This completes my transfer of my posts from Facebook
New posts will be on here, facebook and images on Pinterest

Friday, June 22, 2012

May at Kelmscott

After William Morris died Jane and May had a holiday just outside Cairo with the Blunt's. Jane settled at Kelmscott mainly with Jenny who wandered the grounds looking for her Father. May edited his works. Jane spent the winters in London or with her widowed sister Emma in Lyme Regis. Jane bought Kelmscott in 1913 (a year before she died) for £4000. May reverted to the name Morris in 1899 after her divorce.

John Renbourn cover

Jane and May Morris

The M's at Ems

Drawn by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
'The M's at Ems': William Morris reading volume two of seven of the Earthly Paradise to Jane Morris, while she is sitting in a bath and drinking the second of seven glasses of a spa water lined up in front. 1869
Pen and brown ink

Iseult on the Ship

Study for 'Iseult on the Ship' by William Morris, c. 1857.
Portrait of Jane Burden. Pencil and ink.
Courtesy of William Morris Gallery. London Borough Waltham Forest.

From a REALLY good article on William Morris

Jane Morris with May

Jane in the year she died

Jane in the year she died.
Phillips, Harry F (photographer)
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case X, shelf 610, box B (V&A)

Letter found under the floorboard

Dante Gabriel Rossetti bringing cushions to Jane Morris

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones
Dante Gabriel Rossetti bringing cusions to Jane Morris

Maria Zambaco and by descent in the family

The present drawing was one of a group of sketches and caricatures from the collection of Burne-Jones's model and muse Maria Zambaco. An exceptionally beautiful member of the London Greek community, his affair with her began in the late 1860s and lasted about three years. The impact of the affair on Burne-Jones was profound and his drawings of her have a sadness and air of unearthly beauty about them. The affair between Burne-Jones and Maria Zambaco can be compared to Rossetti's relationships with Lizzie Siddall and then with Jane Morris, the wife of William Morris, pictured here. Like Rossetti, Burne-Jones saw Maria as symbol of his muse as much as a reality.

In the present drawing Burne-Jones, with his characteristic trait of satire, has depicted a rather portly Rossetti hurrying to the attention of a rather fey Jane Morris. Rossetti and Jane first became close while she was sitting for the figure of Queen Guinevere in the Oxford Union murals. However Rossetti was already engaged to Lizzie Siddall, who he married in May 1860. However not long afterwards in February 1962 Lizzie died of a laudanum overdose. William Morris at this time was heavily wrapped up in his work, so the stage was set for a renewal of Rossetti and Jane's Morris's former intimacy. In 1865 she was sitting to him for drawings and by 1868 he was working on a formal portrait. She was the model for his striking pastel of 1869, Pandora, Christie's, London, 14 June 2000, lot 14 (sold £2,400,000). Between 1870 and 1874 they contrived to spend as much time together as they could at Kelmscott Manor, the house which Morris and Rossetti had taken joint tenancy of. However Jane later maintained that the affair remained at the level of passionate romantic attachment rather than anything more physical.

from the collection of 

Mark Samuels Lasner
Senior Research Fellow
University of Delaware Library
181 South College Avenue
Newark, DE 19717
Tel (302) 831-3250

Gold filigree brooch

This gold filigree brooch set with a large citrine and small emeralds and rubies was presented to Jane Morris as a gift from her husband William Morris. 

This brooch is among the number of jewels that she bequeathed to the V&A. Many of the others were gifts from her celebrity acquaintances including Rossetti himself.

The novelist Henry James described Jane Morris in the following way

"A figure cut out of a missal--out of one of Rossetti's or Hunt's pictures--to say this gives a faint idea of her, because when such an image puts on flesh and blood, it is an apparition of fearful and wonderful intensity. It's hard to say whether she's a grand synthesis of all the Pre-Raphaelite pictures ever made--or they are a "keen analysis" of her--whether she's an original or a copy. In either case she is a wonder. Imagine a tall lean woman in a long dress of some dead purple stuff, guiltless of hoops (or of anything else I should say), with a maze of crisp black hair, heaped in a great wavy projections on each of her temples, a thin pale face, great thick black oblique brows, joined in the middle and tucking themselves away under her hair, a mouth like the "Oriana" in our illustrated Tennyson, a long neck, without any collar, and in lieu thereof some dozen strings of outlandish beads. In fine complete."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

William Morris funeral cart

The Blue Silk Dress

Jane Morris (The Blue Silk Dress)’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1868

The Latin inscription acknowledges William Morris, (written by Rossetti) but reserves a superlative for Jane herself: 'Famous for her poet husband, and most famous for her face, finally let her be famous for my picture!' It also, however, gives the last word to Rossetti's painting itself.

Letters from Rossetti to Jane Morris indicate that she made the blue dress herself and was involved in the choice of the pose.

The striking success of this portrait perhaps led Rossetti and Jane Morris to embark on the remarkable series of subject pictures that followed it.

This is one of the two earliest known DGR drawings of Jane Burden

The German Lesson

The German Lesson', from an album of 60 caricature drawings; William Morris holding up a pair of trousers of his shape, a maid standing in a doorway at left and Jane Morris on a couch behind at r, clothes strewn across the floor. 1869
Pen and brown ink
Drawn by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Gere 1994
The drawing accompanied a letter dated 4 August 1869 to Mrs Morris at Ems (Bryson and Troxell, letter 8), with the comment: "I fear that the legitimate hopelessness of the pictorial and ideal Topsy has somewhat communicated itself to the German maid in the cartoon, and even you have rather a Georgian air. The poetry and philosophy of the subject are I hope complete, while you will see that even Scriptural analogy has not been neglected". The last reference is to the picture on the wall entitled 'Das erdiges Paradies', of Adam proffering a fig-leaf to Eve. For 'The Earthly Paradise' see 1939,0513.5. "Georgian" must be a reference to Burne Jones's wife Georgiana, always known as "Georgie", whom he married in 1860.

Caricature of William Morris Presenting a Ring to his Future Wife

Caricature of William Morris Presenting a Ring to his Future Wife
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Sept 1857

Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery

The sketch was made “at Oxford during the painting of the murals”. The reverse side has a study for the figure of Guenevere in his Oxford mural Sir Launcelot's Vision of the Sanc Grael.


Jane Morris to Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. The Letters of Jane Morris to Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. together with extracts from Blunt's diaries.
University of Exeter Press; 1st edition (Oct 1986)
ISBN-10: 0859892239

Topsy home late

Topsy talking to Jane

Where Jane died 26 January 1914 while staying at 5 Brock Street, Bath.

Where Jane died 26 January 1914 while staying at 5 Brock Street, Bath.

Max Beerbohm, Rossetti and His Circle

Max Beerbohm, Rossetti and His Circle
its on archive. org if you want to view it
The caption is about George Meridith exhorting Rossetti to come out for a walk. But who is that looong necked model ?

DGR's preliminary sketch for the pearl brooch

DGR's preliminary sketch for the pearl brooch that he himself designed, circa 1863-69 (source: Rossetti Archive)...

La Belle Iseult 1858

La Belle Iseult 1858

Oil on canvas
support: 718 x 502 mm frame: 960 x 755 x 61 mm

Bequeathed by Miss May Morris 1939 to the Tate

but as someone just emailed me the subject is very odd for a love painting.
The inspiration for this painting was Thomas Malory's 'Morte d'Arthur' (1485), in which Guinevere's adulterous love for Sir Lancelot is one of the central themes. The model is Jane Burden who became Morris's wife in 1859.
But it was painted in 1858. Did Morris have suspicions even then ?

Jenny Morris as a young adult

May Morris

May Morris
by Sir William Rothenstein
silverpoint, 1897

May Morris

May Morris
by Sir Emery Walker
half-plate glass negative, circa 1880s-1890s

almost certainly at Kelmscott
I always thought she took after her Father but you can definitely see Jane here

Four Willowwood Sonnets

The Four Willowwood Sonnets from The House of Life


I sat with Love upon a woodside well,
Leaning across the water, I and he;
Nor ever did he speak nor looked at me,
But touched his lute wherein was audible
The certain secret thing he had to tell:
Only our mirrored eyes met silently
In the low wave; and that sound came to be
The passionate voice I knew; and my tears fell.

And at their fall, his eyes beneath grew hers;
And with his foot and with his wing-feathers
He swept the spring that watered my heart's drouth.
Then the dark ripples spread to waving hair,
And as I stooped, her own lips rising there
Bubbled with brimming kisses at my mouth.


And now Love sang: but his was such a song,
So meshed with half-remembrance hard to free,
As souls disused in death's sterility
May sing when the new birthday tarries long.
And I was made aware of a dumb throng
That stood aloof, one form by every tree,
All mournful forms, for each was I or she,
The shades of those our days that had no tongue.

They looked on us, and knew us and were known;
While fast together, alive from the abyss,
Clung the soul-wrung implacable close kiss;
And pity of self through all made broken moan
Which said, 'For once, for once, for once alone!'
And still Love sang, and what he sang was this:Ñ


'O ye, all ye that walk in Willow-wood,
That walk with hollow faces burning white;
What fathom-depth of soul-struck widowhood,
What long, what longer hours, one lifelong night,
Ere ye again, who so in vain have wooed
Your last hope lost, who so in vain invite
Your lips to that their unforgotten food,
Ere ye, ere ye again shall see the light!

Alas! the bitter banks in Willowwood,
With tear-spurge wan, with blood-wort burning red:
Alas! if ever such a pillow could
Steep deep the soul in sleep till she were dead,Ñ
Better all life forget her than this thing,
That Willowwood should hold her wandering!'


So sang he: and as meeting rose and rose
Together cling through the wind's wellaway
Nor change at once, yet near the end of day
The leaves drop loosened where the heart-stain glows,Ñ
So when the song died did the kiss unclose;
And her face fell back drowned, and was as grey
As its grey eyes; and if it ever may
Meet mine again I know not if Love knows.

Only I know that I leaned low and drank
A long draught from the water where she sank,
Her breath and all her tears and all her soul:
And as I leaned, I know I felt Love's face
Pressed on my neck with moan of pity and grace,
Till both our heads were in his aureole.

Dated to December 1868 and with Jane in mind but also starting to worry about his eyesight and telling his brother he thought he should have concentrated on being a poet.

The illustration is actually Charles De Sousy Ricketts' illustration of Christina Rossetti's "An Echo from Willowood".

Researching this I came across a note by Jan Morris that in his middle years Rossetti had problems with a testicle that prevented his consummating with Jane. Not heard that before - wonder if Fanny knew ?

quoted in

La Donna Della Finestra study

The final work is here

but I love the way in the study Jane's face (and hands emerge from the background)
Another essay on Rossetti's and Dante's love for Beatrice. Rossetti fell in love with Jane in about 1868. It is significant that he chose to represent her as 'La Donna Della Finestra', suggesting that he felt she brought him consolation for the death of his wife, Elizabeth Siddal, whom he regarded as his Beatrice. Yet as Rossetti's love for Jane deepened he represented her as Beatrice also, for instance in the large oil painting 'Dante's Dream at the time of the Death of Beatrice' (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool).

The finished picture is in the Walker Gallery. The early studies were begun in 1870 but the final oil wasn't finished until 1879.


Dante Gabriel Rossetti

coloured chalks

Jane Morris

Jane Morris
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

pen and brown ink on blotting paper


The Prioress’s Tale cabinet

The Prioress’s Tale cabinet
Designed by Webb in 1857, and decorated by Burne-Jones with scenes from the tale told by the Prioress in The Canterbury Tales.
Chaucer's portrait (following that in Occleve's manuscript) is shown at the bottom on the right. This was Burne-Jones's first major foray into oil painting, and formed his wedding present to William Morris at Morris's marriage to Jane Burden in 1858. [Bequeathed by May Morris, 1939. WA1939.2].

Third Floor, Room 67, Pre-Raphaelites


Jane and Lizzie

This is so interesting - but I can't find how to cut and paste from Google Books. But this ties in with several hints I've been reading that if it wasn't for his commitment to Lizzie, Rosseti might have married Jane and she took Morris on the rebound. Interesting thought for sure!

The Golden Stairs

Roger Homan (Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Brighton) talks about Jane and Rossetti " In Rossetti's painting she is always evident as Jane Burden. For Burne-Jones, however, Jane Burden becomes a type: her image appears in The Golden Stairs (1876-80, Tate) not as an individual study but several times within a host. He borrows her image so often and uses it in such moderation that we have now become accustomed to a new generation of angels."

The Morris Society did a very good paper on this lovely painting:

"Enter Morris, moored in a punt"

"Enter Morris, moored in a punt"
Rossetti sketch of Sept 1871 at Kelmscott

Wlfred Scawen Blunt in the prison clothes he wore when in jail

Wlfred Scawen Blunt in the prison clothes he wore when in jail, arrested for supporting Irish Home Rule in 1888, for two months in Kilmainham jail. He was released on bail but did hard labour after a trial. Jane was very concerned which apparently irritated Morris who was in some danger of being arrested himself.

May Morris, her then fiancée Henry Halliday Sparling, Emery Walker and George Bernard Shaw in rehearsal for a Socialist League play.

You can just see a Morris & Co 'Sussex' chair on the right.

In 1886, May fell in love with Henry Halliday Sparling (1860–1924), the secretary of the Socialist League. Despite her mother's concerns about her future son-in-law, they married 14 June 1890 at Fulham Register Office.The marriage broke down in 1894 over her affair with a former lover, the playwright George Bernard Shaw. The Sparlings were divorced in 1898 and May resumed her maiden name.

Red House interior showing Rosseti's Lanceolot