Painting: The Day Dream (1880)

The Day Dream (1880) – By Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). Victoria & Albert Museum.


Readers reading #9

Instead of ‘Readers reading’, perhaps this one ought to be titled ‘Reader forgetting about reading’ – we’ve all done it, one moment reading, the next drifting into a dream.

Rossetti was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator – and co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The Day Dream was his last finished work. Rossetti even wrote a sonnet about this lovely painting:


Within the branching shade of Reverie
Dreams even may spring till autumn; yet none be
Like woman’s budding day-dream spirit-fann’d.
Lo! tow’rd deep skies, not deeper than her look,
She dreams; till now on her forgotten book
Drops the forgotten blossom from her hand.

The painting was based upon a chalk sketch, now held by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (below).


Here is a little literary context – 1880 was the year George Eliot and Gustave Flaubert died. Also – the year the following were published.

Fiction (1880)

  • Henry Adams (anonymously) – Democracy: An American Novel
  • Wilkie Collins – Jezebel’s Daughter
  • Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield – Endymion
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky – The Brothers Karamazov (Братья Карамазовы, Brat’ya Karamazovy)
  • Amelia Edwards – Lord Brackenbury
  • George Gissing – Workers in the Dawn
  • Anna Katharine Green – A Strange Disappearance
  • Thomas Hardy – The Trumpet-Major
  • Anthony Trollope – Ayala’s Angel
  • Mark Twain – A Tramp Abroad
  • Émile Zola – Nana

Children and young people (1880)

  • Carlo Collodi – The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio)
  • Evelyn Everett-Green – Tom Tempest’s Victory
  • Johanna Spyri – Heidi
  • Jules Verne – The Steam House (La Maison à vapeur)

Drama (1880)

  • Oscar Wilde – Vera; or, The Nihilists (privately printed)


BELOW: Readers reading on Pinterest (from The Long Victorian)

The ‘Readers reading’ series on this blog (this list last updated, 12th March 2017).

Readers reading #1. A Girl Reading In A Sailing Boat (1869) By Alfred Corbould.

Readers reading #2 The Bookworm (1850) Carl Spitzweg.

Readers reading #3 A Pleasant Corner (1865) – By John Callcott Horsley.

Readers reading #4 The Novel Reading (1841) – By Josef Danhauser.

Readers reading #5 The Poor Poet (1839) – By Carl Spitzweg.

Readers reading #6 The Travelling Companions (1862) – By Augustus Egg.

Readers reading #7 The Breakfast (c.1911) – By William McGregor Paxton.

Readers reading #8 Answering the Emigrant’s Letter (1850) – By James Collinson.

Readers reading #9 The Love Letter (1808) – By Willem Bartel van der Kooi.

Readers reading #10 The Day Dream (1880) – By Dante Gabriel Rossetti.


11 thoughts on “Painting: The Day Dream (1880)

Add yours

  1. You don’t say anything about the woman in the painting (Janey Morris) and the impact of her relationship with Rossetti on her marriage to William Morris. There is something interesting to be said about how this influenced Morris’ views on love and marriage (Fiona MacCarthy, 1994:227) – from his early love poem to Janey (In praise of my lady, 1858) to his philosophy of open marriage expressed in 1886.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Helen – you’re quite right, I should at least have named the artist’s model, Jane Morris. I have a guilty feeling I didn’t want to say anything in particular about the relationship between the three of them because it seems it was quite complex – a lot to untangle. But thank you for bringing it up – intriguing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: