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“Love’s Messenger” by Marie Spartali Stillman

Loves Messenger Stillman DAM

“Love’s Messenger” by Marie Spartali Stillman is a watercolour 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 symbols portrayed in the picture, include:

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

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.

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.

Essential Facts:

  • 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

Artist Essential Facts:

  • 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