Art History at a Glance
The painting Mariana was inspired by two of artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti's lifelong obsessions - love and literature. The love in question was a forbidden one, between Rossetti and the wife of his close friend and colleague William Morris. Jane Morris haunted the artist, and she appears in many guises in several of his works (including Mnemosyne, Astarte Syriaca, and Pandora). In Mariana, Jane Morris is cast as the leading lady, her embroidery neglected while she sits dreamily listening to a song of love.
The other obsession is evident in the subject of the painting. The source for this work of art was William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. Dante Gabriel Rossetti drew heavily from literature and poetry to create his paintings, and the story of Mariana - with its theme of lost love - must have seemed especially significant to the artist. In addition, a fragment of the boy's song (Measure for Measure, Scene I, Act IV) appears on the frame of this painting.
Related Works of Art
Compare and contrast Mariana with another of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's paintings - The Day Dream.
David Rodgers has written this informative and engaging book about the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The book, which is part of the Phaidon Colour Library series, features many of Rossetti's most memorable paintings, including his Beata Beatrix and The Blessed Damozel.
This lovely book by Andrea Rose captures the essence of Pre-Raphaelite art using a series of images from several artists. Paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and many other artists are presented in full color, with intriguing commentaries.