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Jane Burden, Mrs William Morris (1839-1914)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (London 1828 - Birchington 1882) and Ford Madox Brown (Calais 1821 – London 1893)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1870 - 1879 - 1893

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

480 mm (diameter)

Place of origin

England

Order this image

Collection

Wightwick Manor, West Midlands (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Wightwick Manor, West Midlands, Midlands, National Trust

NT 1288946

Caption

The slightly uneasy relationship between the head and body in this portrait is because they were painted by two different artists: the face by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882) (probably in the 1870s), and the rest of the picture, including the hair, by Ford Madox Brown. Helen Rossetti Angeli (1889-1969), daughter of Dante Gabriel’s brother William Michael Rossetti (1829 – 1919) and brother of Gabriel Arthur Rossetti (1877 - 1932), wrote that: “the head was not finished by my Uncle (as you know). It came into my mother's [Lucy Madox Brown (1843 – 1894)] hands after his death, and shortly before the death of her father [in 1893], she got him to finish it off. He painted the very red hair.” Jane Morris had black tightly waved hair, and the contrast between the dark eyebrows and red hair of the picture is quite marked. Perhaps Madox Brown was deliberately alluding to Rossetti's earlier attraction to red-haired 'stunners', in particular his wife, Elizabeth Siddal.

Summary

Oil painting on canvas (square-framed circle), Jane Burden, Mrs William Morris by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (London 1828 - Birchington 1882) and and Ford Madox Brown (Calais 1821 – London 1893), 1870s and 1893. A head-and-shoulders portrait, to right, wearing a spotted dress with white fur collar and black ribbon tied round her neck; a white fan is held in her right hand behind her neck. She is seen with the flowing red hair of Elizabeth Siddal rather than her own black hair.

Full description

This composite portrait was Sir Geoffrey and Lady Mander's first important Pre-Raphaelite acquisition, bought before Wightwick had been formally given to the National Trust. The face by Rossetti was probably painted in the 1870s; the rest of the picture including the red hair was completed by Madox Brown. Gabriel Arthur Rossetti's sister Helen Rossetti Angeli (1889-1969) wrote to Sir Geoffrey about the portrait on 17 April 1937: "the head was not finished by my Uncle (as you know). It came into my mother's hands after his death, and shortly before the death of her father, Ford Madox Brown, she got him to finish it off. He painted the very red hair." Jane Morris had black tightly waved hair, and the contrast between the dark eyebrows and red hair of the picture is quite marked. Perhaps Madox Brown was deliberately alluding to Rossetti's earlier attraction to red-haired 'stunners' - particularly Lizzie Siddal: Mrs Surtees describes it as a "Composite portrait of Jane Morris with the red hair of Elizabeth Siddal." The difference in the techniques of the two artists is also very apparent: the brushwork of the face is smooth, contrasting with the rougher and really rather crude treatment of the ear, hand and fan. The flesh tones are also markedly different. As a result of a stroke, in the last year of his life Brown was forced to paint with his left hand. Jane Burden (1839-1914) was the daughter of an Oxford stablehand. In 1857 she was 'discovered' by Rossetti while he and his associates, including William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, were working on the Pre-Raphaelite murals in the new Oxford Union building. She agreed to model for Rossetti, who chose her because of her very striking appearance: her strong features and thick, dark, frizzy hair and eyebrows were the antithesis of the contemporary ideal of a soft, delicate rounded face and carefully arranged straight hair (as can be seen in Watts' portrait of Effie Ruskin, NT 1288934). In 1859 Jane married Morris. Rossetti's wife Elizabeth Siddal died in 1862; the close relationship that subsequently developed between Jane and Rossetti has been a source of endless discussion and speculation. She was the model for a great many of his drawings and paintings. (Adapted from author's unpublished property catalogue, Stephen Ponder, Wightwick Manor, circa 1995)

Provenance

Lucy Madox Brown (1843-1894); by descent to Gabriel Arthur Madox Rossetti (1877-1932) (son of Lucy and William Michael Rossetti, nephew of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and grandson of Ford Madox Brown), Bolton; with Elkin Matthews Ltd; purchased by Sir Geoffrey and Rosalie Mander in 1937 for £17 10s. (£17.50), their first acquisition; transferred to the National Trust on the death of Sir Geoffrey Le Mesurier Mander (1882-1962)

Credit line

Wightwick Manor, The Mander Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

Property of GA Rossetti.98 Park Rd.London (labelled and written in pencil)

Makers and roles

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (London 1828 - Birchington 1882) and Ford Madox Brown (Calais 1821 – London 1893) , artist Ford Madox Brown (Calais 1821 - London 1893), artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti (London 1828 - Birchington 1882), artist

References

Surtees 1971 Virginia Surtees, The Paintings and Drawings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882). A Catalogue Raisonné, 2 vols., Oxford 1971, No.405/2

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