Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Sketch of Angels’ Heads


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Not on display

Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828–1882
Chalk on canvas
Unconfirmed: 515 × 567 mm
Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1940

Catalogue entry


White chalk 17 7/16 × 19 11/16 (443 × 500) on canvas 20 5/16 × 22 5/16 (515 × 567), the drawing over a reddish-brown ground, the rest of the canvas only primed

Presented by W. Graham Robertson (as part of N 05064) 1940

Prov: N05064 was painted for F.R. Leyland, at whose sale, Christie's 28 May 1892 (48), it was bt by W. Graham Robertson, but it is not known at what point T 03817 became attached to the painting

This chalk sketch is on a fragment of canvas taken from the bottom left corner of a larger canvas; the original tacking edges remain at the left and bottom. The fragment was found attached to the back of Rossetti's ‘Proserpine’, N05064, when W. Graham Robertson presented the painting in 1940, but was only separately registered by the Gallery in 1984. The canvas was pinned to a board with the drawing facing the back of ‘Proserpine’, the whole being ‘Nailed on lower half of stretcher at back and papered down’ according to a note made on 7 August 1940 by D.C. Fincham, then an Assistant at the Gallery.

The heads, one complete, the other cut by the edge of the canvas, bear some relation to those of the angels in Rossetti's ‘The Blessed Damozel’ of 1875–8 (Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; Virginia Surtees, The Paintings and Drawings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Oxford 1971, no.244, pl.355). T03817 might be a fragment from an abandoned canvas of the subject. It is not known how or when the fragment came to be attached to the back of ‘Proserpine’, or whether any significance should be given to the fact that the latter was painted in 1874 when Rossetti was making preparations for ‘The Blessed Damozel’.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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