The Virgin Mary Being Comforted

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1852 May
Subject: “Composition of three women in which the Virgin Mary is centrally placed; St. John stands beside them. In the left background Jesus is mounting the stairs with his gaolers, jeered at by onlookers; right background, roughly sketched, Pontius Pilate washes his hands; Christ, haloed, is being mocked” (Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 18).


◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 18 (no. 51).

Scholarly Commentary


This is one of the many Marian pictures and poems that DGR created in the late 1840s and early to mid-1850s. The sketch for the virtually finished pencil drawing has on its back a study for The Meeting of Dante and Beatrice in Paradise. The contiguity underscores the close relation DGR saw in his pursuit of his Marian and his Beatricean themes.

Production History

The date and inscription on the finished drawing suggests that DGR made the drawing when he was staying with E. L. Bateman in the Howitt's cottage at Highgate. Bateman went to Australia with Woolner the following July, and this drawing must have been DGR's parting gift to him. (See DGR's letter to Woolner of 1 January 1853, Fredeman, Correspondence, 53. 1 ).


The picture reconstructs the scene just before the crucifixion of Jesus, observing it in relation to key background figures who do not come into the biblical narratives.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s51.raw.xml