Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “How They Met Themselves”, 1864, Watercolor and Bodycolor on Paper, 11 x 10 Inches, Leicester Galleries

There are three versions of this watercolor “How They Met Themselves”. One exists  in a private collection and the other two at the Fitzwilliam Museum. The first version of this doppelganger theme was made with pen and ink and brush and is dated 1851 1860. It was painted for George Price Boyce, Rossetti’s friend and fellow Pre-Raphaelite artist, during Rossetti’s honeymoon in Paris in 1860, to replace the earlier pen and ink drawing of the same subject which was either lost or destroyed.

In a letter to George Price Boyce dated February 4th of 1861, Dante Rossetti expressed, his intentions to undertaking a watercolour version: “I was much wishing to execute the Bogie pen and ink drawing which you have as a watercolour and would be greatly obliged to you for the loan of it…”

Dante Rossetti, by calling it the `Bogie drawing’, expressed his continuing fascination with the legend of the ‘Doppleganger’, the vision of which is a presentiment of death. To illustrate this strange theme, Rossetti chose the subject of two medieval lovers in a wood meeting their doubles who glow supernaturally. Doppelgänger imagery occurs in poems he admired such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “ The Romaunt of Margaret” and Poe’s “Silence” and also frequently in his own more autobiographical poems such as “Sudden Light”, “Even So”, and “Willowwood”.

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