The Spirit of the Rainbow

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1876
Model: (Sir Sydney Cockerell told Virginia Surtees in 1953 that he had been told by Watts-Dunton that the model for the drawing was Watts-Dunton's mistress and that DGR made the picture at his request.)


◦ Douglas, Theodore Watts-Dunton, II. 276-277.

◦ Sharp, DGR: A Record and a Study, 254-255.

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 145.

Scholarly Commentary


This is the only finished, full-length female nude that DGR is known to have executed. DGR intended to fill in the background with a rainy landscape of trees, perhaps with a waterfall as well. That the woman represented in the drawing was Watts-Dunton's mistress, as Sydney Cockerell told Virginia Surtees, seems to be obliquely borne out in James Douglas's biography of Watts-Dunton. Douglas pointedly does not name the model for this drawing, though he observes that she was also the model for the half-nude picture known as Forced Music and he suggests—in the running head covering his treatment of these works—that Watts-Dunton regarded her as “The Loveliest of all Rossetti's Models” (Douglas II. 277).


The drawing illustrates Watts-Dunton's sonnet “The Wood-Haunter's Dream”, a dream account of “The Spirit of the Rainbow” who is represented as a kind of “belle dame sans merci” (“God gives the world the Rainbow, her the rains”).

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s245.raw.xml