Thursday, February 21, 2013
sketch by William of Jane
This is the only known sketch by William of Jane. So different from the Rossetti sketches.
In the late summer of 1857 Rossetti and Burne Jones, then in Oxford engaged on the decoration of the Union (see 1885,0613.81), went one evening to the theatre, where they were struck by the extraordinary beauty of a girl in the audience. They succeeded in making her acquaintance, and in persuading her to act as a model for their paintings. She appears as Guenevere in Rossetti's 'Sir Lancelot's Vision of the Sanc Grael' in the Union, and in Morris's only known easel-picture, the 'Queen Guenevere' (also sometimes known as 'La Belle Iseult') which he painted in 1858 (Tate Gallery), and for which the present drawing may be a preliminary study. He is said to have scrawled on the canvas "I cannot paint you, but I love you"; and in April 1859 they were married. By the late 1850s Rossetti's relationship with Elizabeth Siddal was under increasing strain, and he too was attracted by Jane Burden. She, for her part, found Morris a not altogether congenial husband, and a triangular relationship gradually developed in which he seems to have been the odd man out. Mrs Morris, who behaved with impeccable dignity and discretion, became Rossetti's confidante and intimate friend, as well as his chief source of artistic inspiration and his favourite model. Her face haunts his paintings from the late 1860s onwards, as Elizabeth Siddal's does those of the 1850s. The letters they exchanged (more of his than hers seem to have survived) from 1868 until 1881 - the year before Rossetti's death - were published in 1976 by John Bryson in association with Janet Camp Troxell. Jane Morris herself died in 1914.
Portrait of Jane Morris; shoulder length, seen almost in profile to left, turned slightly to front Graphite Verso; Figure sitting in a toga with a sword Graphite
This actually belonged to Jenny.