The sonnet Love’s Baubles by Dante Gabriel Rossetti was the inspiration for the below image painted by John Byam Liston Shaw in 1897. The sonnet is an excerpt from Rossetti’s House of Life sequence published in the First Trial Book in 1869 and then as a single volume in 1870.
Byam Shaw was multi-talented and prolific as an artist, theatre designer, illustrator, printmaker, teacher and muralist. Reviewing the Royal Academy exhibition in 1897 The Magazine of Art declared that ‘No work from a young hand is more remarkable’ heaping especial praise on Byam Shaw’s draughtsmanship and composition.
Love’s Baubles was not Byam Shaw’s first homage to the poetic talents of Dante Rossetti, two years prior he produced a painting based on Rossetti’s poem ‘The Blessed Damozel’.
Sonnet XXIII Love’s Baubles by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
I stood where Love in brimming armfuls bore
Slight wanton flowers and foolish toys of fruit:
And round him ladies thronged in warm pursuit,
Fingered and lipped and proffered the strange store.
And from one hand the petal and the core
Savoured of sleep; and cluster and curled shoot
Seemed from another hand like shame’s salute,—
Gifts that I felt my cheek was blushing for.
At last Love bade my Lady give the same:
And as I looked, the dew was light thereon;
And as I took them, at her touch they shone
With inmost heaven-hue of the heart of flame.
And then Love said: “Lo! when the hand is hers,
Follies of love are love’s true ministers.”