Desdemona's Death-Song

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1878-1881 (circa)


◦ Benedetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 331-332.

◦ Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial, 195-96.

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 150, 237 (no. 254).

◦ WMR, DGR as Designer and Writer, 106.

◦ Wood, Drawings of DGR, 90 (plate XXXVI).

Scholarly Commentary


DGR intended this work for Frederick Leyland when he began thinking of the subject around 1872. He felt that the scene illustrated would suit the musical theme that dominated in Leyland's drawing room, and even envioned its placement above his patron's piano.

Production History

The earliest sketches date from around 1870. DGR wrote to Leyland on March 18, 1872 that he was about to begin painting, but little progress had been made on the work between 1878 and 1882, when DGR's deteriorating health prevented him from returning to it.


This work illustrates Act IV, Scene III of Shakespeare's Othello. Desdemona sings the plaintive Willow Song while Emilia combs her hair.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s254.raw.xml