A rather lovely and hitherto unseen oil painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti is being sold at Christie's London tomorrow 31 May. [The colours are warmer and brighter than in the photo.] Signed & dated 1869, it's one of the earliest of the subject figures featuring Janey Morris, here as Beatrice from Dante's Vita Nuova. The text top left is DGR's translation of Dante's sonnet praising the influence of Beatrice's gentle virtue on all who beheld her:
My lady looks so gentle and so pure
When yielding salutation by the way,
That the tongue trembles and has nought to say
And the eyes, which fain would see, may not endure.
She is so pleasant in the eyes of men
That through the sight the inmost heart doth gain
A sweetness which needs proof to know it by:
And from between her lips there seems to move
A soothing spirit that is full of love...
Though it was evidently produced for sale, and must have sold soon after completion, it is not listed in any subsequent catalogue of DGR's works, and as yet there's no documentary record of its first lucky owner. The theme and composition recur in variant forms - including a watercolour with the same poem and composition but a blue dress, and the green-on-green Day Dream, with Janey perched improbably in a sycamore tree. But it's a remarkable re-discovery and a delicately-rendered addition to the sequence of paintings based on Janey.