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Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Portrait of Charlotte Polidori, small three-quarter-length, in a brown dress

Details
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Portrait of Charlotte Polidori, small three-quarter-length, in a brown dress
signed with monogram and dated '1853' (lower right)
oil on canvas
15 x 12¼ in. (38.1 x 31.1 cm.)
Provenance
Painted for Gaetano Polidori, father of the sitter and grandfather of the artist.
By descent to Eliza Polidori, the sitter's sister.
By descent to William Michael Rossetti and through his family to the present owner.
Literature
William Michael Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti as Designer and Writer, London, 1889, pp. 19, 273. William Michael Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti: His Family Letters, with a Memoir, London, 1895, vol. 2, illustrated facing p. 117.
H. C. Marillier, Dante Gabriel Rossetti: An Illustrated Memorial of his Art and Life, London, 1899, p. 258, no. 321.
Oswald Doughty and J. R. Wahl (eds.), Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Oxford, 1965-7, vol. 1, pp. 155, 157, 159, 163.
Virginia Surtees, The Paintings and Drawings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Catalogue Raisonné, Oxford, 1971, vol. 1, p. 181, no. 407.
W. E. Fredeman (ed.), The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Cambridge, 2002- , vol. 1, pp. 285, 286 (note 3), 287, 289, 294.
Exhibited
London, Tate Gallery, Paintings and Drawings of the 1860 Period, 1923, no. 42, lent by Mary Rossetti.
Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton (National Trust), c. 1949-53, no. 51, lent by Mrs Rossetti Angeli.

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Lot Essay

Charlotte Polidori was one of Rossetti's three aunts on his mother's side, and the one who played the most significant part in his life. It was she who arranged for the sale of his first important picture, The Girlhood of Mary Virgin (Tate Britain), to her employer, the Dowager Marchioness of Bath, and she remained his loyal supporter and confidante until his death. She attended his funeral at Birchington-on-Sea on 14 April 1882, and died herself in 1890.

The portrait was in progress by 30 September 1853 and was completed, apart from the hands, by 8 November. Rossetti considered the head 'quite as finished as anything I have painted', and his brother William Michael thought 'the likeness ... extremely good'.

Rossetti had already made a pencil study of his aunt in July 1853 (Birmingham Art Gallery; Surtees, no. 408), again showing the sitter wearing a bonnet but facing three-quarters to left. Perhaps the drawing was made when he was trying to decide on a pose for this painted portrait.

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