SHE was hailed as the muse of the pre-Raphaelite movement and now her portrait could set a world record.
An oil painting of Oxford beauty Jane Morris by her close friend Dante Gabriel Rossetti is set to fetch between £5m and £7m when it goes up for auction at Sotheby’s in London on May 22.
The 145-year-old painting, entitled Pandora could beat the current world auction record for his work of £4,562,500, which was paid last December for A Christmas Carol when it went under the hammer at Sotheby’s.
It comes soon after the 100th anniversary of the death of Jane Morris on January 26, 1914.
Rossetti painted Pandora in 1869, the year Jane Morris – who was said to embody the Pre-Raphaelite ideal of beauty – celebrated her thirtieth birthday.
Mrs Morris was born in Oxford on October 19, 1839.
She was the daughter of an Oxford stable hand, Robert Burden and his wife, Ann Maizey, a laundress.
They lived at St Helen’s Passage, off Holywell Street.
A blue plaque now marks the location and says: “Jane Burden, Mrs William Morris, 1839-1914, Pre-Raphaelite Muse and Embroiderer, was born in a dwelling in this passage, 19th October 1839.”
Auctioneers Sotheby’s said: “When Rossetti painted Pandora, he was consumed with passion for Jane Morris, wife of William Morris, his friend and associate.
“Between 1871 and 1874, Rossetti and Jane spent considerable amounts of time together at Kelmscott Manor, the house on the upper Thames in West Oxfordshire, which the artist and the Morris’s rented together as a retreat.”
She became a muse for pre-Raphaelite artists after she was seen by Rosetti and fellow artist Edward Burne-Jones at a performance by the Drury Lane Theatre Company in Oxford.
Struck by her beauty, the two men, who were painting murals based on Arthurian tales for the Oxford Union, and others, including William Morris, sought her out to model for them.
Mrs Morris is buried at St George’s Church, Kelmscott.
Multi-millionaire Evita and Phantom Of The Opera composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, 65, owns 18 works byRossetti, including a black crayon drawing of Jane Morris. He also owns Rossetti’s armchair.
Influential art movement
THE Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of young British painters who formed in 1848.
They were inspired by Italian art from the 14th and 15th
centuries, and adopted the name Pre-Raphaelite to show their admiration for Italian painting in the period before the time of Renaissance painter Raphael. The movement was formed by three Royal Academy students – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais, all under 25.
Although the Brotherhood only lasted about five years, its
influence on painting in Britain was significant.