Description: Madonna and child
watercolour over pencil
6.5 x 5.9cm (2 9/16 x 2 5/16in).
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Possibly purchased by John Ruskin from the artist;
Gifted to Isabelle Marshall;
Thence by descent
Ruskin's relationship with Siddal is relatively poorly documented. However, according to William Michael Rossetti's comments about Siddal in his book Dante Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal (1903, London, The Burlington Magazine for Connoiseurs), Ruskin is known to have paid Siddal a stipend from 1855 in return for small works which he would either sell or retain for his personal collection, as described in the following extract:
'Through Rossetti, Ruskin knew Miss Siddal before the end of 1854. He took the greatest pleasure in her art-work, present and prospective. She visited at his house, with Rossetti, in April 1855. He "said she was a noble, glorious creature, and his father said that by her look and manner she might have been a countess." In March of this year John Ruskin (as Rossetti wrote) "saw and bought on the spot every scrap of design hitherto produced by Miss Siddal. He declared that they were far better than mine, or almost than anyone's, and seemed quite wild with delight at getting them. He is going to have them splendidly mounted, and bound together in gold."
The price which Dante Gabriel named for the lot was certainly modest, £25: Ruskin made it £30. In May of this same year Ruskin settled £150 per annum on Miss Siddal, taking, up to that value, any works which she might produce. This arrangement held good, if I am not mistaken, up to 1857'
Although it has never been ascertained exactly which of Siddal's works Ruskin owned, it is quite plausible that this work was purchased by him as part of the ongoing arrangement and subsequently given to Isabelle Marshall along with lot 106, in 1864.