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Rossetti as collector

Photograph of a jar with a group scene illustration in blue

Rossetti's studios

Rossetti decorated the interiors of his homes and studios in unconventional style. He designed his own wallpaper for the rooms he and Elizabeth Siddal shared at Chatham Place, Blackfriars, after their marriage.

After her death he moved to a new home and studio at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. He painted the 18th century panelled rooms in rich colours and filled them with bric--brac from curiosity shops. This was a deliberately uncoordinated look very much in advance of its time, juxtaposing junk with high quality.

The rooms contained an eclectic mixture of Chinese and Japanese objects with Delft tiles, Old English china, brass, pewter, Spanish cabinets, Sheraton furniture, oriental rugs, velvets and chintzes. A particular feature was the abundance of mirrors.


The jewels worn by Rossetti's models were carefully selected to add to the particular effect of each picture. They were not invented but painted from real pieces. Many were cheap items of costume jewellery and not especially rare or precious.

The four items in this section are part of a group of jewellery bequeathed to the Victoria & Albert Museum by Jane Morris's daughter May.

Apart from Jane Morris's own wedding ring, the pieces probably originally belonged to Rossetti and were given to Jane as tokens of love. All four items can be seen in paintings in the exhibition. Unfortunately one of Rossetti's favourite ornaments, the spiral pearl pin seen in 'The Beloved', 'A Christmas Carol', 'Mariana' and 'The Bower Meadow has not survived.

Chinese and Japanese art

Rossetti was an early participant in the craze for collecting Chinese blue-and-white china. This was part of a vogue for Oriental art that included Japanese as well as Chinese artefacts. The fashion started in Parisian artistic circles in the late 1850s and was brought to London in the early 1860s by Whistler.

Rossetti's enthusiasm for collecting Chinese blue-and-white wares was the subject of many anecdotes. At a dinner party Rossetti was so keen to see the marks on a prized porcelain dish that he turned it over, forgetting that there was food in it, and upset a salmon all over his hostess's tablecloth.

All the pieces in this section were formerly owned by Rossetti.