During the 1860s Rossetti painted a number of luxurious pictures of solitary beauties, of which this is one of the most sumptuous. The model was his housekeeper and mistress, Fanny Cornforth (c. 1826-c. 1906). She is shown fingering a Japanese koto, against an opulent background of passion flowers, wild convulvulus, and oriental prunus-blossom tiles. In his composition and colours Rossetti seems to have been influenced by Titian, whose works he knew in reproduction.
Inscriptions / Translations: Inscriptions, sale stamps & c: Signed and dated I.r.: DGR [in monogram]/1865.
Also inscribed in ink on back of lining, upper right: The Blue Bower painted by D. G. Rossetti 1865
Notes: Exhibited: 'Newcastle Festival: Dante Gabriel Rossetti', Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, UK, 25 September 1971 - 06 November 1971; 'The Pre-Raphaelites', Tate Gallery, London, UK, 05 March 1984 - 28 May 1984 (no. 132); 'D.G. Rossetti', The Toyko Shimbun, Tokyo, Japan, 22 September 1990 - 18 November 1990; 'Victorian Painting from Whistler to Turner', Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany, 25 February 1993 - 02 May 1993; 'Victorian Painting from Whistler to Turner', The Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain, 13 May 1993 - 31 July 1993; 'Heaven on Earth: The Religion of Beauty in Late Victorian Art', Nottingham University Art Gallery, Nottingham, UK; 'Art Treasures of England', Royal Academy, London, UK, 22 January 1998 - 13 April 1998 (no. 166); 'Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the 1860s: The Blue Bower', Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts, USA, 10 February 2001 - 06 May 2001; 'Living Proof', Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK, 19 January 2002 - 07 April 2002; 'Rossetti', Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK, 16 October 2003 - 18 January 2004; 'Rossetti', Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 27 February 2004 - 06 June 2004; 'The Pre-Raphaelites', Nationalmuseum Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden, 26 February 2009 - 24 May 2009; 'Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Guarde', Tate Britain, London, UK, 01 September 2012 - 01 January 2013; 'Pre-Raphaelite Sisters', The National Portrait Gallery, London UK, 17 October 2019 - 26 January 2020; 'Rossetti's Portraits', The Holburne Museum, Bath, 24 September 2021 - 09 January 2022 (Cat. p.88, no. 50)