Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Arthur's Tomb: The Last Meeting of Lancelot and Guinevere.
1854. Watercolour on paper. British Museum, London, UK. More. [Order a Print]
Arthur’s Tomb: The Last Meeting of Launcelot and Guinevere.
Sir Lancelot, a knight of King Arthur, and Guinevere, the wife of the king, are two of the main characters of the medieval legends about King Arthur and his knights. The subject was inspired by Malory’s ‘Morte d’Arthur
’: after the death of Arthur the Queen retired to a nunnery and rejected Lancelot. Rossetti invented another episode: the repentant Queen repulses Launcelot’s attempt to kiss her over late husband's tomb. The apple tree and the snake, creeping out of the grass are clear references to the biblical Fall of Man. This picture inspired the poem of the same title by William Morris:
Across my husband's head, fair Launcelot!
Fair serpent mark’d with V upon the head!
This thing we did while yet he was alive,
Why not, O twisting Knight, Now he is dead?