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William Morris Gallery: Rare works reveal Rossetti’s obsession

Rossetti's Obsession: Images of Jane Morris

Saturday 4 October 2014 to 4 January 2015

Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm; free

Private view: Friday 3 October, 7-9pm

A new exhibition at Walthamstow’s William Morris Gallery this autumn explores the obsessional intensity with which pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti depicted model Jane Morris, William’s wife.

Jane Morris was a talented embroiderer, linguist and musician who played a key role in the family business Morris & Co. She was also the favoured model of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, founder of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood.

In his maturity Rossetti drew and painted Jane obsessively, casting her in many literary and mythological roles, including Dante Alighieri's Beatrice, Pandora, Proserpine and Astarte. His depictions of Jane ensured that her face became the iconic image of Pre-Raphaelite womanhood.

Rossetti's Obsession: Images of Jane Morris, held to mark the centenary of Jane's death, brings together rarely seen drawings and pastel studies of Jane Morris by Rossetti. The exhibition also features images of Jane as herself and explores her life and interests beyond modelling.

Chris Robbins, Leader of Waltham Forest Council which owns and runs the William Morris Gallery, said: “We’re thrilled to be hosting this important exhibition, which offers a unique opportunity to see works that have rarely been displayed in public. Together they give us a fascinating insight into the role Jane Morris played in Rossetti’s artistic and personal life, as well as a greater understanding of her own character and achievements.”


Rossetti's Obsession is a touring exhibition in partnership with Bradford Museums and Galleries. It is kindly supported by Farrow & Ball, Islington.

A special range of exhibition merchandise will be available in the Gallery’s shop.

Please use the following photo captions for accompanying images:


La Donna della Finestra

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1871

Pastels on paper, 848 x 720mm

© Bradford Museums and Galleries

Study for Beatrice

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1871

Chalk on paper, 698 x 394mm

© Bradford Museums and Galleries

Study for Astarte Syriaca

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1878

Coloured chalks on paper, 1008 x 667mm

© Bradford Museums and Galleries


For further information or to request high-resolution images please contact Emily Blackshaw:

020 8496 4445

Exhibition events

Lucinda Hawksley: Pre-Raphaelite Women

Wednesday 22 October, 7.30pm

Art historian Lucinda Hawksley, author of Lizzie Siddal: The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel, considers the female artists, models and muses who lived in and around the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

Tickets £7.50/£5 (Friends of the William Morris Gallery). To book contact Roger Huddle by emailing

Curator’s Tour                                                                                                                                                   Thursday 30 October, 3pm

Join curator Jill Iredale for a unique insight into the making of the exhibition and find out more about Rossetti’s depictions of Jane Morris.

Free, no need to book.

WMG Late: Obsession

Thursday 6 November, 6.30pm – 10.30pm

People have used art, music and poetry to express their varied obsessions for centuries, obsessions with nature, with the object of their desire and with objects themselves. Immerse yourself in the artist’s obsession with the human form, the DJ’s search for rare vinyl finds and the poet’s preoccupation with words. This event will feature drop-in life drawing classes with London Drawing, music from our DJ and live performances from the Forest Poets. The exhibition, the galleries and bar will be open all evening.

Free. Drop-in, no booking necessary.


Discover William/Discover Jane

Group Tours at the National Portrait Gallery and the William Morris Gallery

Planning a day out for your group or society? Why not combine a curatorial tour of Rossetti’s Obsession: Images of Jane Morris at the William Morris Gallery with a lecture and visit to the National Portrait Gallery’s new exhibition Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and His Legacy, 1860 - 1960. Quote NPG2014 when booking and your group will get 10% of our new joint publication, Words of Wisdom.

To book a curatorial tour of the William Morris Gallery please email

Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and His Legacy, 1860 – 1960

16 October 2014 – 11 January 2015

This exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery explores Morris’s belief in ‘art for the people’ and how this idea had an enduring influence in the twentieth century. Enjoy a private lecture with a specialist historian and visit the exhibition with your group.

£24 per person (includes exhibition ticket)

To book an Exhibition Lecture at the National Portrait Gallery visit

About the William Morris Gallery

The William Morris Gallery is the only public gallery devoted to William Morris: designer, craftsman and radical socialist. Housed in the grade II* listed building that was Morris's family home from 1848 to 1856, the Gallery reopened in August 2012 following a major redevelopment that attracted widespread public and press acclaim.

The Gallery, which is owned and run by Waltham Forest Council, is the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2013 and has been nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award 2014.

The Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm; admission is free.


If you would like more information about any of these press releases or have a different media enquiry please contact us at or on 020 8496 4521 / 4802.

For out of hours please email or call 07966 915 157.