Dante Gabriel Rossetti drew this chalk portrait of his sister Christina in September 1866, when she was thirty-five years old. In that year, she published her second volume of poetry, Prince’s Progress and Other Poems. She received a proposal of marriage from a reclusive Dante scholar and former pupil of her father, Charles Bagot Cayley. To judge from a series of love poems written in Italian (Il Rosseggiar dell’ Oriente), which William found in her writing desk after her death, Rossetti loved Cayley very deeply. But she refused him after she “enquired into his creed and found he was not a Christian.” She never married.

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