Binding Design: Atalanta in Calydon (1865)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Physical Description

Medium: White buckram on boards bevelled at the edges. Design blocked in gold on the upper cover.
Dimensions: 9 x 7 1/10 in.

Production Description

Production Date: 1865


Current Location: British Museum
Note: The digital image used here to illustrate the design is from the copy in Alderman Library, University of Virginia.

Scholarly Commentary


This famous binding is the second in a sequence of three in which DGR played with variations on a design structured around rondels. The first was the design for his brother's translation of Dante's Divine Comedy: Hell (1865) and the third was the binding design for Swinburne's Songs before Sunrise. The elaborated symbolical treatment in the first of these bindings gets chastened considerably in this case, partly no doubt to accommodate Swinburne's classical subject. Here the rondels recollect the relief work on Greek vases. They are gold-stamped on white buckram, and a Japanese influence is notable in the simple treatment of the materials, as well as in the “lacquer styling” of the cloth cover. There is no question that the binding anticipates the design work of the Vienna Secession and Art Nouveau. We know that DGR was pleased with the design, and that he considered using a version of it for the binding design of his own 1870 Poems .

It is exceedingly difficult to find a copy now with clean cloth covers.


  • Fredeman,“Woodman, Spare that Block”, 7-41.
  • Grieve,“Applied Art 2”, 79-83.
  • DGR: Painter and Poet, Birmingham, 1973, 57 (no. 229).
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
File Name: sa121.rap.xml