'Mariana', Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Painting with one woman in a blue dress seated and a boy playing a musical instrument behind

Oil on canvas, dated 1870, 109.2 x 90.5cm, Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections

At the request of his patron William Graham, Rossetti transformed the composition of his portrait of Jane Morris ('The Blue Silk Dress') into a subject picture. By adding a page-boy (modelled by Graham's son), the figure turns into Mariana, from Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure', deserted by her betrothed.

This subject involves a woman neglected or unsatisfied by her husband (or in this case fianc). It thus seems specially suited to Rossetti's series of paintings of Jane Morris.

However, the subject was not novel in Pre-Raphaelite circles. Millais had also painted 'Mariana' in 1850-1. In fact, the striking blue dress in the Millais painting may have helped to suggest the subject for Rossetti's own work featuring such an item of clothing.