'Pandora', Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Accession number LL 3647

Coloured chalks, 100.8 x 66.7cm

Woman holding a box, with swirling vapours escaping from under the lid

Purchased by Lord Leverhulme in 1919 for the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

In the Greek myth, the god Jupiter gave a casket to Pandora, a mortal woman, and forbade her from opening it. She took it back to earth and opened it, letting forth all evils into the world. Only Hope was left inside. The Latin words on the casket, 'Ultima Manet Specs' mean 'Hope remains last.' The face and figure type of Pandora are based on Jane Morris but this is not a portrait.

The meaning of the image is ambiguous. Is Pandora an evil femme fatale who ruins men by her disobedience? Or is she a heroic woman who defies the gods to take control of her own fate?

Find out more about the artist in our Dante Gabriel Rossetti online feature.