Three-quarter length portrait of a young woman depicted as 'Stella', the subject of Jonathan Swift's 'Journal to Stella', in profile to the right with her face turned to three-quarter view. She has long dark hair, which is tied away from her face with a lace and ribbon cap, a string of coral beads around her neck, and an ivory-coloured dress patterned with bouquets and posies of flowers with half-length sleeves. She is seen standing next to a highly elaborate wooden sideboard with a marble top, a sheet from a letter in her hand (presumably from Swift); before her, on the top of the sideboard, are the other sheets of the letter, a bronze figurine, and a large dark aquamarine-coloured jar. The drawer of the sideboard is slightly open.
Gallery text panel The Pre-Raphaelites in their Time Britain's first and best-known radical art movement emerged from within the Royal Academy in 1848. Its original members were rebellious art students who were disillusioned with contemporary practice. They looked back to Italian art before Raphael, seeing the pre-1500 period as one of great sincerity. They called themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In an age of rapid industrial and urban expansion, Pre-Raphaelite artists like Rossetti, Hunt and Millais, and pioneering design reformers such as William Morris, sought a return to pre-industrial values of art and design in truth to nature and materials, and good workmanship. In addition, the arts of the Middle Ages and Middle East were important sources of stylistic inspiration. The Bible, literature and contemporary life were preferred over subjects derived from classical mythology. The Brotherhood also rejected contrived studio lighting and took canvases outside to paint directly from nature. Although attempting to convey exactly what they saw, they created a heightened reality of dream-like intensity with minute details and bright, dazzling colours. Their art was a new kind of history painting for a new age.
Canvas: 112.7cm x 92.1cm
Frame (approximate): 137.2cm x 119.4cm
Place of creation
© Manchester Art Gallery