The Loving Cup

Dublin Core


The Loving Cup


Art, Arthurian, Arthurian romance, chivalry, cup, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), Gouache, ivy, knight, legend, medieval clothing, nostalgia, Pre-Raphaelite, replica, romance, SA, South Australia, Victorian, watercolour


This work by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a renowned nineteenth-century painter and member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, depicts a young woman in a voluminous medieval-looking gown raising a golden cup decorated with a heart shaped design to her lips. In her other hand she clasps the lid of the cup to her breast. A lace cloth, ivy (the symbol of fidelity) and 4 brass plates (2 depicting deer, 1 depicting Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit and the other showing Hosea and Joshua with a bunch of grapes) are visible in the background. This painting is one of three watercolour replicas that Rossetti produced in 1867 of an oil painting that is currently held by the National Gallery of Western Art, Tokyo. The frame of the original painting is inscribed "Douce nuit et joyeux jour/ A chevalier de bel amour (Sweet night and pleasant day/to the beautifully loved knight)," which suggests that the woman is toasting her recently departed knight. The source of these words is uncertain, but it is thought that Rossetti, well-known for his poetry as well as his artwork, probably wrote it himself. (For more on the Tokyo painting, see

The Arthurian theme and subject matter of the painting are typical of Rossetti’s work from the mid-1850s, and the work of the second phase of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood more generally. As Elizabeth Prettejohn suggests, these paintings convey a sense in which the “the world presented in the pictures is somehow distant or remote from the everyday”. They depict scenes of leave-taking, but the circumstances are left untold, and we do not learn the fortunes of the figures involved. This, she suggests, “contrasts abruptly with the narrative specificity of most Victorian painting, and of earlier Pre-Raphaelite pictures. The precise detail in the drawings gives us a medieval world that is apparently complete in itself, but to which we as spectators only have partial access” (Elizabeth Prettejohn, The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites, Tate Publishing, London, 2000, pp.106-7).


Rossetti, Dante Gabriel


Art Gallery of South Australia


c 1867


Art Gallery of South Australia


Gouache on paper, 52.6 x 35.9 cm

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