Sir Max Beerbohm

Rossetti’s Courtship


Not on display

Sir Max Beerbohm 1872–1956
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 324 × 210 mm
Bequeathed by Sir Hugh Walpole 1941

Display caption

Elizabeth Siddal was introduced to the Pre-Raphaelite circle by Walter Deverell in 1850. Her striking looks were the inspiration for many of Rossetti's pictures, and continued to exert their power even after her death twelve years later. By 1854 it seemed that she and Rossetti might marry, but it was only in 1860 that he finally agreed to wed her. Before meeting Rossetti, Siddal had made her own untutored drawings, but with his encouragement she produced a number of haunting and original watercolours. John Ruskin, who provided some financial support, considered her one of the five geniuses he had encountered in his life (the others were J.M.W.Turner, G.F.Watts, J.E.Millais and Rossetti).

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

A01040 [from] ROSSETTI AND HIS FRIENDS (TWENTY-THREE DRAWINGS) 1916–17 [A01038-A01060; complete]
Bequeathed by Sir Hugh Walpole 1941.
Coll: Mrs Charles Hunter; from whom purchased by the Leicester Galleries; from whom purchased by Sir Hugh Walpole 1921.
Lit: Lynch, 1921, pp.146–50.

A series of twenty-three drawings, variously dated 1916 and 1917. Fifteen were lent by Mrs Charles Hunter to the Modern Loan Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, November 1917 (98); the complete series was first exhibited at the Leicester Galleries, September 1921 (1), in the order in which they are given here, again as Rossetti and his Friends. They were published in book form by Heinemann in 1922 as Rossetti and His Circle, possibly an allusion to Rossetti's Dante and His Circle, the second edition of his translations from the early Italian poets, published in 1874. The complete series of drawings was further exhibited in Paintings and Drawings of the 1860 Period, Tate Gallery, April–July 1923 (336), and was on loan to the Tate Gallery from June 1938. For further details, see below (artists represented in the collection will be fully discussed in the appropriate section of the catalogue).

(iii) Inscr. ‘Rossetti's Courtship - Chatham Place, 1850–1860’ b.c. and ‘Max 1916’ b.r.
Pencil and watercolour, 12 1/2×8 1/4 (32×21).
Exh: Grosvenor Gallery, November 1917 (98, 3); Leicester Galleries, September 1921 (3); Tate Gallery, April–July 1923 (336, 3); Hugh Walpole's Collection, French Gallery, May–June 1937 (20); on loan to the Tate Gallery from June 1938.
Repr: Rossetti and His Circle, 1922, pl.2 (in colour).

Rossetti met Elizabeth Siddal in 1850 and, according to his brother, they became engaged late the following year, but they did not get married until 1860. Rossetti lived at Chatham Place from 1852 until his wife's death in 1862.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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