Waugh and ‘Works of Feeling’ at the Royal Academy of Arts’ Library

The Royal Academy of Arts in London is holding an exhibition ‘Works of Feeling: Pre-Raphaelite Book Illustration’ in its Library Print Room (free). The 42 black and white wood engraved illustrations include four by Gabriel Dante Rossetti (1828-1882). His life and art was the subject of Waugh’s first book, Rossetti: His Life and Works, (1928). I had this connection on my mind when I went to the RA. The works are displayed with taste on the walls of the small entry to the library on the second floor and also in four glassed cases. After exploring the exquisite engravings of Millais, Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Solomon, Hunt, Sandys, Whistler and Poynter, I decided to inquire about Waugh and Rossetti and asked if there was a copy of his book in the library. But there was no card with his name in the hand- written Rossetti catalogue of that period.

Waugh wrote extensively about Rossetti’s illustrations in part ‘III. The Aesthetes’of his biography. Interestingly enough, a story he wrote then about how difficult it was for the Daziel Brothers workshop to manage Rossetti’s illustrations in Poems of Alfred Tennyson, (1857) is covered in the Introduction to the current exhibition by Amanda-Jane Doran, a contemporary art writer. It did feel that the new edition of Waugh’s biography of Rossetti in The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh, Volume 16 (September 2017) would fill a gap in the RA collection.

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