Catalogue No. 88
Venus Verticordia

Artist: Rossetti, Dante Gabriel
Venus Verticordia

1828-82
Coloured Chalks 30½ x 24½ ins Inscribed: VENUS VERTICORDIA

Collection Details
William Graham, ?1872; his sale, 3 April 1886, lot 99: bt by Agnew for Alexander Henderson, later 1st Lord Faringdon.

Literature
H C Marillier, D G Rossetti, 1899, p.136, No.149; W Sharp, D G Rossetti, 1882, p.187; Letters of Graham Robertson, ed K Preston, 1953, pp.397–8; V Surtees, Paintings and Drawings of D G Rossetti, 1971, No.173B, p.249.

Exhibition Details
BFAC, Rossetti, 1883, No.69.

Related Pictures
The oil, commissioned by J Mitchell of Bradford in 1863 or 1864, is now in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery, Bournemouth.  The head of Alexa Wilding was substituted for that of the cook (see below) in 1867.  For the related drawing, see Surtees, op cit.

Background
Described by Mrs Surtees as a study for the oil painting and dated 1863.  H R Angeli (Rossetti, 1949, pp.91–2) quotes letters from Ruskin to Rossetti, written in 1865, criticising among other things the Flora (ie, the Venus Verticordia) that Rossetti had just begun.  The estrangement between the two men developed at this period.  Writing to Mr Rae about a replica that he had commissioned in 1864 (now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery), Rossetti rather unnecessarily observed: ‘I really do not think the large picture chargeable with anything like Ettyism, which I detest, but I am sure the little one has not a shadow of it.’  The model was a young cook whom Rossetti had picked up on the street.  According to Hueffer (Rossetti, 1902, pp.66–7), the artist spent large sums on the honeysuckle and roses with which he adorned the background.  The picture is inscribed with Rossetti’s sonnet beginning, ‘She had it in her hand to give it thee …’, which was published in 1865 with certain alterations.

 

The entries for this and for the following picture, compiled for the 1964 edition of this guidebook, have been modified in the light of Mrs Surtees’s catalogue of Rossetti’s work.