Sunday, June 17, 2012

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

This was the last painting that DGR worked on while he was staying at Burchington-on-Sea in 1882; he died a few days afterwards.
Jane Burden Morris

Rossetti's last painting, Joan of Arc harks back to the medieval themes of his early watercolours, but its medium, style, composition and scale are markedly different. The rich oils, the fiery and lustrous effect, the dramatic close-up, the sumptuous masses of red hair and the opulent drapery characterize the sensuous half-length female portraits of Rossetti's last period. Found on the artist's easel upon his death in 1882, Joan of Arc was acquired by Charles Fairfax Murray. A studio assistant of Rossetti, William Morris and Burne-Jones, Murray had 'made himself happy in the background' in the 1870s. But by the early 1890s when Cockerell met him Murray had acquired an enviable reputation as an expert on the Old Masters and the Pre-Raphaelites, as a collector, connoisseur, dealer and adviser to private and public collections. After Burne-Jones's death Murray took over his studio at The Grange and, sitting on his hoards of Pre-Raphaelite material, became the most knowledgeable and jealous guardian of the artists' legacy. He consulted Cockerell on the disposal of his medieval manuscripts and in 1905 offered thirty of them to the Fitzwilliam. He supplemented them with autographs by Rossetti, Morris and William Blake, hoping to encourage Cambridge to develop a collection of literary and artistic autographs. This happened only after Cockerell's arrival when Charles Fairfax Murray became one of the Fitzwilliam's most generous and demanding patrons. Joan of Arc was among his first gifts presented in 1909. Among the last, offered in 1918 by a grateful Murray who received much help from Cockerell during the last years of his life, were Rossetti's sofa and one of the Fitzwilliam's most famous paintings, Titian's Tarquin and Lucretia.

Fitzwilliam Museum

Jehane la Pucelle.
Note: These words are inscribed at upper left

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