'La Donna della Finestra', Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Half-length portrait painting of a seated woman with her arms crossed and resting on a table in front of her

Coloured chalks on paper, dated 1870, 84.8 x 72.1cm, Bradford Art Gallery

The Donna della Finestra (or Lady of the Window), from the 'Vita Nuova', looked compassionately at Dante from a window after the death of Beatrice.

The subject can be given an autobiographical interpretation. Jane Morris (the model for the Lady) can be said to have consoled Rossetti after the death of Elizabeth Siddal (the model for Beatrice in so many of Rossetti's pictures).

However, this is one of the thirteen subjects from the ' Vita Nuova' that Rossetti had first contemplated designing in 1848, long before he met either Elizabeth Siddal or Jane Morris. Rossetti himself would never limit his works to one or other interpretation. Thus the allegorical, literal, or biographical, can be read at the same time within the same piece.

Such ideas, explored throughout Rossetti's painting and poetry, were of the greatest importance to the Symbolist art and literature of the later 19th century.