Lot 132
ROSSETTI (DANTE GABRIEL) Four autograph letters and one receipt signed, 1865
Sold for £1,375 (US$ 2,308) inc. premium
Lot Details
Four autograph letters and one receipt signed ("D G Rossetti"), to the dealer and print publisher Ernest Gambart (one to his colleague J.F. [sic for F.J.] Pilgeram), concerning the sale and commissioning of both paintings and drawings: Rossetti looks forward to discussing future work ("...When next I see you, I want to make a proposal as to some work I have in my head..."); fends off criticism ("...You are entirely wrong in supposing that the little drawing of Spring is not quite up to my work. I do not care a bit that any artist should possess work of mine except those who would know, as I do, that this is a piece of work they might well be glad to possess. In size only this one is, as I professed to you in doing it, not of equal consequence with the rest. When I do the other season drawings, I shall place them elsewhere, with a repetition of this..."); turns down other work ("...As for drawing from Dante I shall not be able to do any at all of these among those I shall be sending you, as they are things which I can only do to my own satisfaction with an amount of study demanding a higher price..."); and sends a favourable review (" must not be afraid to blow one's own trumpet..."), etc.; the receipt is for £100 on account of £210 paid by Gambard for The Blue Bower; letters on paper bearing his engraved monogrammed Cheyne Walk heading, receipt signature written over the revenue stamp, 9 pages, some dust-staining, 8vo, 16 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, 3 February to 28 May 1865


  • ROSSETTI PAINTS THE BLUE BOWER FOR ERNEST GAMBART, 'PRINCE OF DEALERS': this culminating portrayal of Fanny Cornforth is among Rossetti's best-known works, described (with qualified approval) by his brother William as 'a half-figure of a woman playing a musical instrument' and 'one of my brother's most vigorous and brilliant pieces of painting, with much sumptuous accessory'; and more recently as a 'painting whose ostensible subject is the art of music, but which is essentially a carefully organized combination of shapes and colours' (W.M. Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti as Designer and Writer, 1889, p. 54; J.B. Bullen, ODNB). It was recently the centre-piece of the exhibition held at the Barber Institute for Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, The Blue Bower: Rossetti in the 1860s (catalogue by Paul Spencer-Longhurst, 2000).

    The picture had been begun by 18 April 1865, when Rossetti wrote to Ford Madox Brown that he'd started 'an oil-picture all blue for Gambart, to be called "The Blue Bower"', and finished by 8 October. Gambart paid 200 guineas (£210) and sold it on a year later to Agnew's for 500 guineas. It was then bought by Samuel Mendel, a textile merchant, for a figure rumoured to be 1,500 guineas; a figure Gambart accused Rossetti of inventing. Dealer and painter however remained on good terms, and Rossetti satisfied with the price Gambart had paid (Spencer-Longhurst, pp. 8 and 16). The painting is now at the Barber Institute.

    These letters are printed by William E. Fredeman, The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 2003.
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