OIL PAINTING: Venus Verticordia, 1864
George Price Boyce confirmed in his diary that the model was 'a very large young woman, almost a giantess' (quoted Surtees 1971). However, Rossetti subsequently painted her out and substituted his regular model Alexa Wilding. The picture was purchased by the Yorkshire merchant John Mitchell, a man of progressive views, who was apparently 'looked down on as a cad rather', by some among the Rossetti circle (quoted Marsh 1998). George Rae, one of Rossetti's most important patrons, had turned down the opportunity to buy the picture, writing;
'The oil painting struck me as just a trifle too voluptuous ... fora respectable old sinner like me'.
He also initially declined a smaller watercolour version saying he did not admire 'Ettyism', but Rossetti persuaded him to buy it, denying, correctly, any such influence. Rae then asked if the figure might be draped, but Rossetti steadfastly refused.
Venus holds the 'Apple of Discord', given to her by Paris. His resulting reward led to the death and destruction of Troy. The arrow Venus holds refers both to Cupid's dart, but also to the poisoned arrow which killed Paris at Troy. The blue bird in the background, above roses symbolising love, is an omen of bad luck. Rossetti characterises Venus and male weakness for feminine beauty, as dangerous.