La Bella Mano


La Bella Mano, painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1875, oil, Delaware Art Museum.
Models: Alexa Wilding as the woman, May Morris (daughter of William and Jane Morris) as the angel. More at Rossetti Archive.

Rossetti’s Sonnet for La Bella Mano:

    O lovely hand, that thy sweet dost lave
    In that thy pure and proper element,
    Whence erst the Lady of Love’s high advent
    Was born, and endless fires sprang from the wave: –
    Even as her Loves to her their offerings gave,
    For thee the jewelled gifts they bear; while each
    Looks to those lips, of music-measured speech
    The fount, and of more bliss than man may crave.In royal wise ring-girt and bracelet-spann’d,
    A flower of Venus’ own virginity,
    Go shine among thy sisterly sweet band;
    In maiden-minded converse delicately
    Evermore white and soft thou be,
    O hand! heart-handsel’d in a lover’s hand.
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