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'Hesterna Rosa'

Group scene with two young man at the front playing dice

Ink on paper, dated 1853, 19 x 23.5cm, Tate. Bequeathed by HF Stephens, 1932

This is a scene of depravity with two gamblers throwing dice, accompanied by two women. One of them turns away in shame as her lover tries to kiss her hand. She is the 'Yesterday's Rose' of the title. A young girl with a lute, representing innocence, and an ape, the emblem of vice, underline the moral contrast. The verses below the drawing come from a now forgotten play 'Philip van Artevelde' (1834) by the Victorian writer Sir Henry Taylor:

Quoth tongue of neither maid nor wife To heart of neither wife nor maid: 'Lead we not here a jolly life Betwixt the shine and shade?'

Quoth tongue of neither maid nor wife To heart of neither wife nor maid: 'Thou wag'st, but I am worn with strife, And feel like flowers that fade.'