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A woman holds a bouquet of lilies. Below her are three young girls and a smaller, separate image of a reclining man.

This work consists of two paintings together in a gold frame with an inscription at the bottom. The top, larger painting depicts a light-skinned, red-haired woman in green and gold robes holding a bouquet of white lilies. Six pink stars frame the left side of her head, which leans toward her right. In the background are pink flowers and several vignettes of the same woman embracing a male lover. Below the woman are three young, light-skinned, red-haired young women. The bottom, smaller painting shows the man from the background vignettes, reclining with his hands clasped above his head.

Gallery Text

Rossetti was a poet as well as an artist. His poem “The Blessed Damozel” was first composed in 1847, when he was nineteen, and he continued to revise it until just before his death. William Graham, one of the artist’s most faithful patrons, commissioned a painting of its subject in 1871. The poem uses archaic language to describe the damozel, or damsel, leaning out of heaven — “the rampart of God’s house”— to behold her earthbound lover. The painting takes the form of a Renaissance altarpiece, with the damozel as a surrogate for the Virgin Mary. Graham, an avid collector of early Renaissance paintings, suggested that he add the predella (the panel or step traditionally found below the main part of an altarpiece) with the reclining lover in a terrestrial landscape. The two-part frame, designed by the artist, emphasizes the separation between heaven and earth — the “gold bar” described in the poem.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, British (London, England 1828 - 1882 Birchington-on-Sea, England)
The Blessed Damozel
Work Type
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2130, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Pre–Raphaelites and Their Legacy
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
136.8 x 96.5 cm (53 7/8 x 38 in.)
predella: 35.2 x 96.2 cm (13 7/8 x 37 7/8 in.)
framed: 212.1 x 133 x 8.9 cm (83 1/2 x 52 3/8 x 3 1/2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • exhibition label: back of frame, paper: [ ] Art [ ] / Nottingham Castle / Lent By: Mackenzie / London / -- / 99
  • exhibition label: back of frame, paper: Exhibition of the Works of the Old [Masters] / D. G. Rossetti / The Blessed Damozel / W. Graham Esq. / 35 Grosvenor Place
  • exhibition label: back of frame, paper: Exchange Art Gallery / 14 Exchange Street / Dale Street / London / Old Bond Street Galleries / Piccadilly


Recorded Ownership History
Commissioned by William Graham, February 1871, finished 1878, (possibly) sold; to James Dyson Perrins, by descent; to C. W. Dyson Perrins, Malvern, sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop [through Martin Birnbaum], 1934, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.

State, Edition, Standard Reference Number

Standard Reference Number
Surtees 244

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art


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Publication History

  • Magdalena Kilian, "Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 'weilki Wloch dreczony w piekle Londynu', Annales Universitatis Paedagogicae: Studia de Arte et Educatione VII, 124, pp. 56-62, p. 61; repr. in color between p. 62 and p. 63
  • Walter A. Compton, "Dante Gabriel Rossetti: the Blessed Damozel", Unpublished (n.d.)
  • William Sharp, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Macmillan and Co. (London, England, 1882), pp. 117, 202, 244, 248-253; no. 274 in chronology
  • William M. Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti as Designer and Writer, Cassell & Company, Ltd. (London, New York, 1889), chronology, no. 323
  • Ulisse Ortensi, "I Artisti Contemporanei: Dante Gabriele Rossetti", Emporium, Istituto Italiano d'Arti Grafiche (Bergamo, Italy, 1896), vol. IV, pp. 10, 13; repr. facing p. 3
  • Henry Currie Marillier, Dante Gabriel Rossetti: An Illustrated Memorial of His Art and Life, George Bell & Sons (London, 1899), pp. 175, 180, 188, no. 274
  • Fitz Roy Carrington, Pictures and Poems by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (New York, NY, 1899), frontispiece
  • Elisabeth Luther Cary, The Rossettis: Dante Gabriel and Christina, G. P. Putnam's Sons (London, England, 1900), p. 194; no. 178 in chronology, p. 295
  • Henry Currie Marillier, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, an illustrated memorial of his art and life, George Bell and Sons, Ltd. (London, England, 1904), pp. 72, 124, 127, 132-134; no. 353 in chronology
  • Henry Currie Marillier, Rossetti, George Bell and Sons, Ltd. (London, England, 1906), pp. 90, 92-93
  • Robert Ross, "Art in America. Rossetti: An Observation", The Burlington Magazine (1908), vol. XIII, p. 123
  • Ernest Radford, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, G. Newnes Ltd. (London, England, 1908), pl. 47
  • Gabriel Mourey, D. -G. Rossetti et les Preraphaelites anglais, H. Laurens (Paris, France, 1909), pp. 40, 69
  • Paintings and Drawings of the Pre-Raphaelites and their Circle, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1946), no. 83
  • Hazelton Spencer, ed., British Literature vol. II: From Blake to the Present Day, D. C. Heath and Co. (Boston, MA, 1952)
  • Martin Birnbaum, The Last Romantic (New York, NY, 1960), pp. 208-209
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Letters, ed. Oswald Doughty and John Robert Wahl, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, 1965-1967), p. 1371
  • Jerome H. Buckley, ed., The Pre-Raphaelites, Random House (New York, NY, 1968), repr. b/w, p. 7
  • Gordon H. Fleming, That Ne'er Shall Meet Again, Michael Joseph, Ltd. (London, England, 1971), ill. opp. p. 140
  • Virginia Surtees, The Paintings and Drawings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882): A Catalogue Raisonné, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, England, 1971), no. 244, repr. as pl. 355
  • Carol le Brun Danikian, "Early French Symbolists", Boston Herald American (January 28 1973)
  • Lee Sheridan, "'French Symbolist Art' Timely Museum Exhibit", Springfield Daily News (February 1973)
  • Ann Philips, "When Women Were 'Blessed Damsels'", Cambridge Chronicle (January 25 1973)
  • Marina Henderson, D. G. Rossetti, Academy Editions/St. Martin's Press (London, England and New York, NY, 1973), p. 65, poem p. 64
  • Helene E. Roberts, "The Dream World of Dante Gabriel Rossetti", Victorian Studies (June 1974), vol. XVII, no. 4, no. 4, repr. b/w, plate 3, p. 382
  • John Bryson and Janet Camp Troxell, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Jane Morris, Their Correspondence, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, England, 1976), repr. in b/w, no. 25, p. 51
  • Helmut Kreuzer and Gunnar Brandell, Jahrhundertende, Jahrhundertwende, Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion (Wiesbaden, Germany, 1976), p. 381, repr. b/w and text
  • Denys Sutton, "The Pursuit of Beauty", Apollo (June 1978), vol. CVII, no. 196, pp. 446-452, p. 448, fig. 7
  • Frances Spalding, Magnificent Dreams: Burne-Jones and the Late Victorians, Phaidon Press (Oxford, England, 1978), p. 50, repr. in color, pl. 38, p. 51
  • Julian Treuherz, Pre-Raphaelite Paintings from the Manchester City Art Gallery, Lund Humphries (London, 1980), p. 107; repr. p. 109 as fig. xiii
  • Christopher Wood, The Pre-Raphaelites, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England, 1981), repr. in color, p. 103
  • Wolfgang Kemp, Der Anteil des Betrachters, Maander Verlag (Munich, Germany, 1983), repr. in b/w, fig. 21
  • Pauline Fletcher, Gardens and Grim Ravines: the Language of Landscape in Victorian Poetry, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ, 1983), repr. b/w pl. 12
  • Maria Teresa Benedetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Casa Editrice G. C. Sansoni (Florence, Italy, 1984), no. 464, pp. 318-319
  • Edvige Schulte, Dante Gabriel Rossetti: vita, arte, poesia, Liguori Editore (Naples, Italy, 1986), repr. in b/w, fig. 45
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 213, p. 187, repr.
  • Harold Bloom, ed., Pre-Raphaelite Poets: Modern Critical Views, Chelsea House Publishers (New York, NY, 1986), repr. in b/w on frontispiece
  • Elaine Shefer, "A Rossetti Portrait: Variation on a Theme", Arts in Virginia (Richmond, VA, 1987), vol. 27, nos. 1-3 combined, repr. fig. 5, p. 9 and text
  • Theresa Byington, "A Technical Study of Five Oil Paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 1987), Unpublished, passim
  • The World of Art Nouveau, vol. 4: Beardsley and London, The Shinshusah Co., Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan, 1987), repr. in color, p. 56
  • Mary Bennett, Artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Circle: The First Generation (London, 1988), p. 179
  • Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang, Heaven: a History, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT and London, England, 1988), repr. in b/w p. 254, fig. 50
  • Alicia Craig Faxon, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1989), p. 208, repr. in color; detail in color; pp. 198, 209
  • Spirit Summonings, Time-Life Books, Inc. (Alexandria, VA, 1989), repr. in color, p. 97
  • Michael Wheeler, Death and the Future Life in Victorian Literature and Theology, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England, 1990), repr. in b/w pl. 11
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 128, repr. as no. 70
  • John McManus, ed., The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity, Oxford University Press (NY) and Oxford University Press (UK) (Oxford, England, 1990), repr. in b/w p. 7
  • Gene Edward Veith, Jr., State of the Arts: from Bezalel to Mapplethorpe, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL, 1991), repr. in b/w, fig. 4.9, p. 74
  • Tanita Hiroyuki, ed., Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. (Tokyo, Japan, 1992), repr. in color p. 77
  • Julian Treuherz, Pre-Raphaelite Paintings from Manchester City Art Galleries, Manchester City Art Gallery (Manchester, England, 1993), p. 94, repr. as fig. xiii
  • Hiroko Takahashi and Tatsushi Takahashi, The Victorian Kaleidoscope, Shinkosha (Tokyo, Japan, 1993), ill. p. 263
  • Jutta Stroter-Bender Dumont, Liebesgottinnen, DuMont Buchverlag (Cologne, Germany, 1994), repr. in color, pl. 11; text p. 82
  • Frank Milner, The Pre-Raphaelites: Pre-Raphaelite Paintings and Drawings in Merseyside Collections, Bluecoat Press (1995), p. 80
  • James Cuno, Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Ivan Gaskell, and William W. Robinson, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, ed. James Cuno, Harvard University Art Museums and Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), p. 188, ill. p. 189
  • David Rodgers, Rossetti, Phaidon Press Limited (London, England, 1996), pp. 45-6
  • Masterpieces of world art : Fogg Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1997
  • Maria Teresa Benedetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Charta (Milan, 1998), no. 464, repr. p. 46
  • Oliver Garnett, "The Letters and Collection of William Graham: Pre-Raphaelite Patron and Pre-Raphaelite Collector", The Sixty-Second Volume of the Walpole Society, The Walpole Society (Leeds, 2000), pp. 145-343, pp. 199-203, 208, 211-12, 215, 226-239, 241-42, 245-46, 283, repr. as fig. 97
  • Jerome McGann, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the game that must be lost, Yale University Press (New Haven and London, 2000), repr. in color (n.p.)
  • Vanessa Muller, How Botticellian! (Munster, 2000), pp. 31, 94-97; repr. in color as Abb. 10
  • M. H. Abrams, ed., The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Victorian Age, W. W. Norton & Company (New York and London, 2000), repr. in b/w p. 1575
  • Chikashi Kitazaki and Mina Oya, ed., Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Ueno, 2002), pp. 130-131, cat. #31, color repr.
  • Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (U.S.) (New York, 2003), no. 188, pp. 419-420, repr. in color
  • Julian Treuherz and Elizabeth Prettejohn, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, exh. cat., Thames & Hudson (London, 2003), pp. 100, 114, repr. in color as fig. 69
  • Lisa Tickner, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Tate Publishing (London, 2003), pp. 65-66, repr. p. 64
  • Debra N. Mancoff, Flora Symbolica: Flowers in Pre-Raphaelite Art, Prestel (London and Munich, 2003), pp. 36-37, repr. in color
  • Stephan Wolohojian, Ingres, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Renoir... La Collection Grenville L. Winthrop, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2003), no. 188, pp. 432-434, repr. in color
  • Laurence Brogniez, Préraphaélisme et Symbolisme: Peinture littéraire et image poétique, Honoré Champion Éditeur (Paris, France, 2003), repr. in b/w, no. 7, pp. 95,105,106,122,123,275,294,322
  • Pre-Raphaelite and Other Masters: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts (London, 2003), p. 307
  • Bethany McIntyre, Victorian Visions: from the National Museums & Galleries of Wales, exh. cat., International Arts and Artists (Washington, DC, 2003), repr. p. 39 as no. 14
  • Robert Dupin, "La Collection Winthrop", Universalia, Encyclopaedia Universalis (Paris, France, 2004), pp. 343-344, p. 344
  • Mark DeVoto, Debussy and the Veil of Tonality, Pendragon Press (Hillsdale NY, 2004), pp. 68-70, repr. in b/w
  • Professor Nobuyuki Senzoku, How to Look at Fantastic Arts, Tokyo-Bijutsu Inc. (Tokyo, Japan, 2004), pp. 30-31, repr. in color
  • Reina Lewis, Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel, and the Ottoman Harem, I. B. Tauris (London, England, 2004), pp. 151-156, repr. as fig. 1
  • Richard Wendorf, After Sir Joshua: Essays on British Art and Cultural History, Yale University Press (New Haven and London, 2005), pp. 86, 91, 100-4; repr. in color p. 87 as fig. 24; det. repr. p. 104 as fig. 28
  • Important British & Irish Art, auct. cat., Christie's, London (London, England, November 23 2005), pp. 88-89
  • Elizabeth Prettejohn, Art for Art's Sake: Aestheticism in Victorian Painting, Yale University Press (New Haven and London, 2007), pp. 203, 204, fig. 108
  • Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 161, repr.
  • Laurence Roussillon-Constanty, Meduse Au Miroir: Esthetique Romantique de Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ELLUG, Universite Stendhal (Grenoble, France, 2008), pp. 65, 69-71, 73, 75, 109, 147, 165, 195, 271; repr. in color p. 8
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Poems for the Millenium, ed. Jerome Rothenberg and Jeffrey C. Robinson (Berkeley, 2009), pp. 624-629, repr. on p. 625
  • Masaie Matsumura, Japan and Victorian England: Interactions, Osaka Kyoiku Tosho (Osaka, Japan, 2012), repr. p. 89
  • Debra N. Mancoff, The Pre-Raphaelite Language of Flowers, Prestel (Munich, 2012), p.36; repr. on p.37
  • Poetry and the Frame: Rossetti's The Blessed Damozel and its Altarpiece Setting, website, The Frame Blog, accessed June 7, 2013,
  • The Poetic World of the Pre-Raphaelites: New Translations, Tsentr knigi Rudomino (Moscow, 2013), repr. in color, pp. 95-96
  • Anne van Buul, In vreemde grond geworteld: Prerafaëlitisme in de Nederlandse literatuur en beeldende kunst (1855-1910), Verloren (Hilversum, 2014), p. 59, pl. 11
  • Maia McAleavey, The Bigamy Plot: Sensation and Convention in the Victorian Novel, Cambridge University Press (New York, 2015), pp. 76-77, fig. 3
  • Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art, auct. cat., Christie's, London (London, June 16, 2015), p. 76
  • Deborah H. Cibelli, "The Duality of Light in Rossetti's Ekphrastic Poems and Paintings", Light and Obscurity in Symbolism, ed. Rosina Neginsky and Deborah H. Cibelli, Cambridge Scholars Publishing (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2016), pp. 100-116, pp. 109-113, fig. 7-5
  • Philip Almond, Afterlife: A History of Life After Death, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd (London, 2016), repr. as fig.32 on p.144; p.145
  • Connie Butler, ed., Marisa Merz: The Sky Is a Great Space, exh. cat., UCLA Hammer Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 2017), pp. 248-248, repr. p. 248 as fig. 68
  • Elizabeth Prettejohn, Modern Painters, Old Masters: The Art of Imitation from the Pre-Raphaelites to the First World War, Yale University Press (New Haven, 2017), pp. 128, 130, fig. 81
  • Dinah Roe, "Words about the Picture: Material and Metaphor in Dante Rossetti's Inscribed Picture Frames", The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies (2018), 27, pp. 33-55, pp. 33-55, figs. 4, 5 (detail of frame)
  • Aurélie Petiot, Le Préraphaélisme, Citadelles & Mazenod (Paris, 2019), p.340; repr. on p.341
  • Hermann Mildenberger, Annette Seemann, and Stephan Dahme, "Die andere Seite": das Phänomen der Mehrfachbegabung in den Künsten, Edition Fichter (Frankfurt, 2021), pp. 228-230, repr. p. 229 as Abb. 1
  • Maureen Buja, "Looking Down from Paradise: Debussy's 'La Damoiselle élue'", Interlude (September 26, 2022), repr. [; accessed 9-27-22]

Exhibition History

  • Unidentified Exhibition, Nottingham Castle Museum, 1879, Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham, 07/01/1879 - 07/30/1879
  • Winter Exhibition: Works by the Old Masters and by Deceased Masters of the British School, Including a Special Selection from the Works of John Linnell and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 01/01/1883 - 02/28/1883
  • Royal Jubilee Exhibition, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, 05/01/1887 - 10/31/1887
  • Paintings and Drawings of the Pre-Raphaelites and their Circle, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/08/1946 - 06/01/1946
  • Pre-Raphaelite and Early French Symbolist Art in the Fogg Collections, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/16/1973 - 02/25/1973
  • Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977
  • The Pre-Raphaelites: Selections from the Permanent Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/04/1980 - 07/15/1980
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Centennial Exhibition from the Harvard Collections, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 07/12/1982 - 09/11/1982
  • Paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Technical Study, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/24/1987 - 09/18/1987
  • Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 09/14/2002 - 12/08/2002
  • A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, 03/15/2003 - 05/26/2003; National Gallery, London, 06/25/2003 - 09/14/2003; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/23/2003 - 01/25/2004
  • For Students of Art and Lovers of Beauty: Highlights from the Collection of Grenville L. Winthrop, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/16/2004
  • Re-View: S426A (Large Niche) #2: The Past and the Present: British Art of the 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 11/26/2010 - 01/08/2011
  • 32Q: 2130 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project
  • Collection Highlights

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Verification Level

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