Composition Study - Proserpine, 1871


‘Venus told Cupido to shoot his arrow to the heart of the great god Hades, the emperor of the underworld’.

In this study for the painting, Rossetti did not use the ivy-branch in the background or the incense-burner, as the attribute of a goddess. The hands holding the pomegranate were still relaxed, not as tense as in the later versions; and the eyes, though contemplative, seem to hope that she is only visiting the underworld. Perhaps Proserpine still kept too much of human in Rossetti’s mind.

 Composition study, 1871 – pastel and chalk

Dimensions: 38 1/4 x 18 1/4 in.

Current Location: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Associated Place(s)


  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Image Date: 

19th century