In 1851 Rossetti began a watercolour of 'The Return of Tibullus to Delia', inspired by a famous elegy by the Roman poet Tibullus in which the writer asks his mistress to await his return. Delia waits, spinning to while away the hours, listening to music played by an old woman and distractedly putting her long hair in her mouth. There are several studies in existence for the painting. The motif of sucking at hair was also used, probably coincidentally, by Frederick Sandys in his design illustrating Christina Rossetti's poem If (1906P844 in Birmingham's collection).

  • Purchased and presented by subscribers, 1903.
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti -


Type Position(s) Method Date(s) Notes
Study made (probably 1855) from his wife (nee Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal) whom he married in 1860, for the 'Delia' in the 'Tibullus' Return to Delia, by Dante G. Rossetti. [G. P. Boyce's hand]
- reverse Handwritten -


Catalogue No. Venue Date(s)
Pictures, Drawings, Designs and Studies by the Late Dante Gabriel Rossetti
108 Burlington Fine Arts Club, London 1883 - 1883
Exposition retrospective de peinture anglaise
151 Musee Moderne, Brussels 1929-10-12 - 1929-12-01
Exposition Retrospective de Peinture Anglaise (XVIIIe et XIX siecles)
49 Musée Moderne, Brussels 1929-10-12 - 1929-12-01
Some Pre-Raphaelite Paintings and Drawings
- National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth 1955-07 - 1955
- Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea 1955 - 1955-10
Artists of Victoria's England
47 Cummer Museum of Art, Jacksonville, Florida 1965-02-02 - 1965-03-14
Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Painter and Poet
60 Royal Academy of Arts, London 1973-01-13 - 1973-03-11
Pre-Raphaelite Women
19 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 1985-10-09 - 1986-01-02
19 Stoke-on-Trent Museum and Art Gallery 1986-09-13 - 1986-10-19
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
126 Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo 1990-09-22 - 1990-11-14
126 Aichi Prefectural Art Gallery, Nagoya 1990-11-17 - 1990-12-09
126 Ishibashi Museum of Art, Kurume 1991-01-08 - 1991-02-14
Rossetti's Portraits of Elizabeth Siddal
8 Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 1991-03-05 - 1991-04-28
8 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 1991-05-16 - 1991-07-07
Visions of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection, England
27 Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington 1995-03-09 - 1995-05-07
27 Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio 1995-05-27 - 1995-07-16
27 Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington 1995-08-11 - 1995-10-15
27 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas 1995-11-04 - 1996-01-02
27 High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia 1996-01-23 - 1996-04-10
27 Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery 1996-05-25 - 1996-09-29
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
31 Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool 2003-10-16 - 2004-01-18
31 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam 2004-02-27 - 2004-06-06
The Pre-Raphaelites
119 Nationalmuseum, Stockholm 2009-02-26 - 2009-05-24


Author(s) Date(s) Publisher Pages
City of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: Catalogue of the Permanent Collection of Drawings
A E Whitley 1939 Bemrose & Sons, Ltd., Derby p. 313.
Pre-Raphaelite Drawings and Watercolours
1953 Arts Council of Great Britain p. 17
Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882, The Paintings and Drawings: A Catalogue Raisonne
Virginia Surtees 1971 Oxford University Press, London vol. 1, no. 62D, pp. 24-25; vol. 2, pl. 60.
Pre-Raphaelite Drawings: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Andrea Rose 1977 The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London no. 1A11.
Sotheby's catalogue, 14 February 1978
1978 Sotheby's, London no. 37.
The Art of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: The Watercolours and Drawings of 1850-1855
A I Grieve 1978 Real World Publications, Norwich pp. 56-59.
Highly Important Nineteenth Century European Paintings and Drawings, Sotheby's, 23 June 1981
1981 Sotheby's, London no. 15.
Rossetti's Portraits of Elizabeth Siddal
Virginia Surtees 1991 Scolar Press, Aldershot no. 8.
Visions of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection, England
Stephen Wildman 1995 Arts Services International, Alexandria, Virginia p. 130.
Fontane und die Bildende Kunst
Claude Keisch, Moritz Wullen, Peter-Klaus Schuster 1998 National Gallery, Berlin p. 114.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Edwin Becker, Elizabeth Prettejohn, Julian Treuherz 2003 Waanders, Zwolle p. 154.
The Pre-Raphaelites
2009 Nationalmuseum, Stockholm cat.119, p.205


Given by Rossetti to G.P.Boyce (1868); Charles Fairfax Murray.

Associated people

Name Type
Elizabeth Siddal Artist's model

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