Théodore Chassériau: The Two Sisters, 1843

The picture shows the artist’s sisters, Adèle and Aline. Adèle was thirty-three at the time, Aline, who never married, twenty-one. Together with his first mistress, Clémence Monnerot, the two sisters were his main models for many years.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Autumn Song

Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
Laid on it for a covering,
And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In autumn at the fall of the leaf?

And how the swift heat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain
In autumn at the fall of the leaf,
Knowest thou not?—and how the chief
Of joys seems not to suffer pain.

Know’st thou and at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
Bound up at length for harvesting,
And how death seems a comely thing
In autumn at the fall of the leaf?


One of his first poems, written 1848.

Though he was born in London, both of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s parents were at least part Italian. His father had emigrated, seven years before his birth, for political reasons. His mother was born in England to an Italian father and an English mother. Poetical blood ran in both families. His sister Christina was a poet as well.

This is his earliest self-portrait, drawn in black and white chalk on tan paper in 1847, when he was nineteen. He started writing poems at this time, “Autumn Song” is from the next year.

John Gibson: Aurora (1842)

John Gibson, born near Conwy in Wales, was already twenty-seven when he travelled to Rome. He would stay there all his life. In 1842 Henry Sandbach, a Liverpool merchant, commissioned this figure of Aurora for his wife Margaret, who had become a close friend of the sculptor. The Sandbach family later built a gallery in their new house, Hafodunos, to display their Gibson sculpture.

A bust of this statue is in the Yale Center for British Art.

Portrait of José Zorilla y Moral, no further details known. Since it shows him as a fairly young man, it may well have been made when he wrote his greatest success, Don Juan Tenorio, 1844. He was twenty-seven at that time.

Charles Baudelaire was in his late twenties when he was portrayed by Gustave Courbet in the revolution year 1848 or slightly later. He had published art reviews and the novella La Fanfarlo, but no poems yet.

Ciociaria brigand, c. 1850

Anonymous watercolored line drawing of a brigand from the Ciociaria, a not clearly defined region to the southeast of Rome, from the mid-19th century. This is what the father of Grazia, who reportedly stood model for August Riedel’s Judith, might have looked like.

August Riedel painted his Judith in 1840, the same year that Friedrich Hebbel’s drama was first performed, and I’ve often wondered if the two are somehow connected, if, maybe, this is the portrait of an actress in the costume of Hebbel’s Judith or something like that. But Riedel lived in Rome at the time, the play was performed in Berlin, and the dramatist and the artist did not know each other, so it’s most likely just a coincidence.

In any case it’s one of the last classical treatments of the subject, and one of the best. It has the characteristics of a portrait, note the neutral gray background that David introduced, or that Holofernes’ head is half hidden behind Judith like an irrelevant prop. The model is said to have been one Grazia, twenty year old daughter of a brigand from Sonnino. Ludwig I bought the painting in 1841, it is now in the Neue Pinakothek.

You can get a huge digital version here.

In 1886, the Romanian artist Emanoil Panaiteanu Bardasare made a sort of copy of this painting.

Leo von Klenze’s reconstruction (or ideal view, as he called it) of the Acropolis and Areus Pagus in Athens is one of the few that takes into account that these buildings were polychrome. This 103 × 148 cm oil painting was finished in 1846 and bought by Ludwig I of Bavaria (who had already resigned as King at the time) in 1852. It now hangs in the Neue Pinakothek.

Leo von Klenze was not a painter, he was an architect active mainly in Munich, where he designed several including the royal residence, the Glyptothek and the Alte Pinakothek. Some of his buildings were strongly inspired by the Parthenon in Athens, but he never gave them a polychrome finish.

Tennyson’s poem certainly changed the reception of the Lady Godiva legend. The 1842 two-volume edition of his poems, in which it was first printed, was an immediate success. In 1850 he became Poet Laureate. Queen Victoria was an ardent admirer of his work. What had previously just been the founding legend of a local custom of dubious value (the Godiva Processions were often criticized by clergymen for their ribaldry) had now a quasi-official seal of approval as a national tradition.

This statuette was made by William Behnes, Sculptor in Ordinary to Queen Victoria. It was exhibited at the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations in London 1851 and now sits atop the mantlepiece in the Old Mayoress’s Parlour of St Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry. The creation date is given as around 1844. If this is true, then it was probably the first depiction of Lady Godiva based on Tennyson’s poem.