Rossetti's inspiration for this watercolour was the thirteenth-century French poem of the same name, which is a complex allegory about love and loss. The picture's shallow depth, and its rich decoration, are clearly inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts, which Rossetti was viewing in the British Museum and elsewhere. The rapt, embracing couple are typical of Rossetti's work at this time, their union blessed by the sweep of the angel's wing.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Roman de la Rose
34.3 x 34.3 cm
Watercolour on paper
Date of work
Original: Watercolour on paper 34.3 x 34.3 cm
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882) was an English painter, poet, illustrator and translator. In 1848 he founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood alongside Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. Influenced by literature and medieval revivalism, he would often compose poetry to accompany his paintings, and William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Rossetti found each other a source of mutual inspiration. He was married to fellow artist Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, who modelled for many of his paintings. Several his works form part of Tate’s collection, including many of his most celebrated paintings.