Dante Gabriel Rossetti

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti

by Lewis Carroll
albumen print, 7 October 1863
5 3/4 in. x 4 3/4 in. (146 mm x 121 mm)
Purchased, 1977
Primary Collection

On display in Room 21 on Floor 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), Painter and poet. Sitter in 29 portraits, Artist or producer associated with 22 portraits.

Artistback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Marsh, Jan, The Pre-Raphaelite Circle, 2013, p. 29 Read entry

    'I'm quite sure there's not a woman in the whole world he couldn't have won for himself,' said Burne-Jones. 'Nothing pleased him more, though, than to take his friend's mistress away from him.' This photograph was taken at Cheyne Walk at the same time as Carroll's group photo of the Rosetti family.

  • Marsh, Jan, Insights: The Pre-Raphaelite Circle, 2005, p. 27
  • Prodger, Phillip, Victorian Giants, The Birth of Art Photography, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 1 March - 20 May 2018), p. 202
  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 65 Read entry

    Lewis Carroll spent four days in October 1863 photographing the Pre-Raphaelite painter Rossetti, his family, friends, and some of his drawings. The sessions took place at Rossetti's home, 16 Cheyne Walk, London, which he shared with his brother William Michael, and the writers Swinburne and Meredith. He photographed Rossetti by the steps which led down from the house to the garden. It was a time of great sadness and uncertainty in the artist's life, for he had only recently moved to Chelsea from Blackfriars, following the death of his wife and obsessional model Elizabeth Siddal in the previous year. She had died of an overdose of laudanum, and Rossetti never ceased to reproach himself. Indeed, this was thought to be one of the major factors which contributed to his mental instability in his later years. Dependent on chloral, he became obsessed with the idea that people were plotting against him. According to his brother, one of his later fantasies was that Lewis Carroll's own Hunting of the Snark was a satirical attack on him.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 534

Placesback to top

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Events of 1863back to top

Current affairs

The opening of the world's first underground railway, with the Metropolitan Railway running trains between Bishop's Street, Padington and Farringdon. Work had begun in 1860, using the 'cut-and-cover' method of construction. The Metropolitan line inspired the construction of other underground railways - the Parisian 'Metro' took its name from the line.
The Football Association is founded.

Art and science

Julia Margaret Cameron takes up photography, taking portraits of some of the most celebrated figures of the day, with her romantic style capturing the sense of nostalgia and longing that characterised the age.
Kingsley's Water Babies; A Fairy Tale for Children is published, the hugely popular tale of drowned chimney sweep Tom's moral education in the river world of the water babies. It inspired the 1978 film starring James Mason.


At an international conference, the Geneva Public Welfare Society calls on the sixteen nations present to form voluntary units to help the wartime wounded. The society, comprised of five Swiss citizens and led by Henri Dunant, who had been deeply affected by the casualties he had witnessed at the Battle of Solferino, became the National Red Cross Societies, adopting the emblem of a red cross on white background.

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