This painting is yet another of Rossetti’s works that depicts a woman playing music. It is also Rossetti’s last major portrait of Fanny Cornforth. I love the blue and white tile background, which is also reminiscent of the blue and white china that Rossetti and others in his circle collected.
I highly recommend The Rossetti Archive to anyone interested in learning more about Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Their scholarly commentary describes The Blue Bower as “an aesthetic work, as emphasized by the background tiles (inspired by the blue and white china DGR loved and collected). Also notable is the fantasy recreation of a Japanese koto as the musical instrument. The painting is an excellent example of DGR’s determination to make an artistic marriage of western Venetian ideas and motifs with eastern decorative art work, including Japanese ukiyo-e colored prints.” (copyright The Rossetti Archive)