Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia Borgia, painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1860-1.

The tale of the Borgias captivated Rossetti. Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519) was the member of a ruthless political family. Her father Rodrigo Borgia eventually became Pope Alexander VI. We see her in Rossetti’s painting washing her hands after the poisoning of her husband, Duke Alfonso Bisceglie. Rossetti had a tendency to paint women’s arms and necks as more muscular in several of his paintings, but it seems quite symbolic in this work. Lucrezia displays manly arms, perhaps synonymous with the primal, savage act of murder. In the background, Rossetti included a mirror where we can see the reflection of her poisoned husband with Lucrezia’s father Rodrigo. Rodrigo cruelly helps the Duke to walk, circulating the poison throughout his body and hastening death.

Read More Aout Lucrezia Borgia

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2 thoughts on “Lucrezia Borgia”

  1. Looking at the picture it may have originally been painted as Fanny but it looks as if later he added features which resemble Jane Burden’s, including the long neck.

  2. The original water colour (b/w photo in Marillier) has a model with dark hair and less well painted than this. The whole of the figure is repainted, not just the face. Long, quilted sleeves are all that show of the dress, and a plain cloak covers the other clothes. The pot and it’s plant appear different (a branch of the plant goes right across the front of the model and the pot is patterned). Picture is not a great reproduction – my copy is the 1904 re-print – and I don’t think the model is Fanny.

    There is a replica (which at the time that Virgina Surtees wrote her Catalogue Raisonee was unlocated)- that version is also reproduced in Marillier alongside the original dark haired one. As it’s reproduced in black and white it is difficult to tell how different, on first look it seems identical to the one above but I can see subtle differences in the leaves near her hands.


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