Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 33-34 (no. 71).◦
Troxell, Three Rossettis, 28-29.
“This drawing is in many respects likeable—but in many more Wrong”: thus Ruskin began his long critical accounting to DGR of the inadequacies of the picture he had commissioned in June 1855. Ruskin repeated certain of his strictures in a letter dated October, and asked DGR to fix what he disliked about the picture “or you will make me ill again” (see
Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 34n.. and
Troxell, Three Rossettis, 28-29, where Ruskin's letter is printed in full). When DGR wrote to his mother on 1 July about Ruskin's reaction, his tone was remarkably cool given the astonishing character of Ruskin's remarks: “While Ruskin was at the seaside I painted and sent him a water colour of The Nativity, done in a week, price 15 guineas. I thought and think it one of my best, but R. disappointed me by not thinking it up to my usual mark. I shall do him another instead, & sell that to someone else” (
Fredeman, Correspondence, 55. 33
). Ruskin kept the picture but only after extorting the changes he wanted.
Surtees usefully compares the picture with the central panel of The Seed of David watercolour in the Tate.