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“Love’s Messenger” by Marie Spartali Stillman

Loves Messenger Stillman DAM

“Love’s Messenger” by Marie Spartali Stillman

“Love’s Messenger” by Marie Spartali Stillman is a watercolour painting portraying a dove which has carried a love letter to a woman standing in front of an open window. She was interrupted while embroidering a blindfolded Cupid. Love’s Messenger reflects the influence of both Pre-Raphaelite painting and Italian Renaissance painting.

The scene offers a contrast between the beauty and love of Venus in the symbols of the dove and rose and the sensuality and unpredictability of her son Cupid’s arrow. The symbolism portrayed in the picture, include:

  • the dove on her hand
  • the rose on her dress
  • the ivy by the window, and
  • the blindfolded Cupid in the embroidery.

Marie Euphrosyne Spartali (Greek: Μαρία Ευφροσύνη Σπαρτάλη), later Stillman was a British painter of Greek descent. The most celebrated female artist of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, she produced over one hundred works, contributing to exhibitions in Britain and the United States. The subjects of her paintings were female figures, scenes from Shakespeare, Petrarch, Dante and Boccaccio and Italian landscapes.


  • How did the Pre-Raphaelite movement influence this picture?

Exploring Pre-Raphaelite Art

Love’s Messenger

  • Title:                Love’s Messenger
  • Artist:              Marie Spartali Stillman
  • Date:               1885
  • Medium:         Watercolour, tempera and gold colour on paper mounted on wood
  • Style:               Pre-Raphaelite
  • Dimensions:    32 × 26 in (81.3 × 66 cm)
  • Museum:         Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Delaware

Marie Spartali Stillman

  • Name:               Marie Spartali Stillman
  • Greek Name:    Μαρία Ευφροσύνη Σπαρτάλη
  • Born:                 1844
  • Died:                 1927
  • Notable works:
    • Love’s Messenger (1885)
    • Madonna Pietra degli Scrovigni (1884)
    • A Rose from Armida’s Garden (1894)


“Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves.”
– Queen Victoria


Photo Credit: Marie Spartali Stillman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons