La Belle Iseult by William Morris (1858)

William Morris’s only painting is a portraint of his beloved wife Jane as Iseult, the tragic princess and beloved of Tristan. This is Jane in real life, 1858.

The bed looks like the one Morris built and dressed for his country house, Kelmscott Manor, one of my favorite places on earth, where MOrris lived with Jane and his two daughters… and his BFF Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Rossetti was a poet and painter, too, and Jane’s lover.

Oh, yes. Morris knew Rossetti was Jane’s lover.

This is the only painting known to have been completed by Morris, who is better known as a poet, essayist, Socialist, designer, embroiderer, carpenter, weaver, printer, engraver and general arts-and-crafts genius. On the back of the small painting, Morris wrote, “I love you but I cannot paint you,” a confession from a man who could, in fact, paint quite well.

A love story untold.

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