1857. Watercolour on paper. Tate Gallery, London, UK. More.
The Blue Closet.
The subject has no apparent literary source; two women play upon a strange medieval instrument, which combines clavichord, carillon and harp. Behind the musicians stand two singers. The painting inspired Morris’s poem of the same name, but, as Rossetti remarked, ‘The poems were the result of the pictures, but don’t at all tally to any purpose with them though beautiful in themselves.’
Lady Alice, Lady Louise,
Between the wash of the tumbling seas
We are ready to sing, if so ye please;
So lay your long hands on the keys;
Sing, Laudate pueri.
(From ‘The Blue Closet’, William Morris)