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'The Blessed Damozel', Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Unlike Holman Hunt, whose Christianity was solidly Protestant, Rossetti had a highly personal view of Christian cosmology which blended myth and legend from classical and medieval sources with a more Catholic Christian symbolism. Thus the lilies which are Christian attributes of purity seem to hold little significance in being three in number, beyond the fact that the number three, like seven, is of ancient mystical and magical importance. Again the seven stars (unlike those that appear in Hunt's frame for 'The Scapegoat') do not have any apparent significance.

Detail of a gold frame


The gold frame may not have been designed by Rossetti. The heavy baroque pediment and narrow columns are motifs that differ radically from his other frame designs. The overall format is reminiscent of seventeenth-century stone memorial plaques on church walls. Originally the picture hung in Leyland's London house in a drawing room full of gilt furniture. This may in part have dictated the frame's appearance. Alexa Wilding modelled the figure of the Damozel.