The Blessed Damozel
This painting is typical of Rossetti's late sensuous style. It is based on a poem, of the same name, that the artist wrote when he was 19. It told the story of a woman who died young, leaving her lover behind. The couple prayed they would be reunited in the afterlife. The painting corresponds to the first verse of the poem: ‘The blessed damozel leaned out From the gold bar of Heaven; Her eyes were deeper than the depth Of waters stilled at even; She had three lilies in her hand, And the stars in her hair were seven.’ The unusual composition, with a small predella, or decorated base, under the main picture, was suggested by Rossetti's patron, William Graham (1817-1885), who bought the original, larger version of this painting. This version was commissioned by the Liverpool-based shipping magnate and Pre-Raphaelite patron Frederick Leyland (1831-1892).