Columbia Library columns (v.26(1976Nov-1977May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.26,no.2(1977:Feb): Page 13  

A Galaxy of Poets


, S the 25 th Anniversary year of the Friends approaches its
conclusion, Mrs. Donald Hyde has made a particularly
notable gift to the Columbia University Library. This
is a folio album, bound in straight-grained black morocco by
Riviere, which contains Dante Gabriel Rossetti's pen and wash
drawing of Tennyson reading Maud to a party given by the
Brownings, Browning's note identifying the occasion, and a letter
from Mrs. Browning to .Mrs. Theodore Martin in which she
describes Tennyson's performance. One would be hard put to
imagine a more evocative ensemble.

There are few literary portraits more familiar than this draw¬
ing, which is usually seen, however, in reproductions of one or
another of the copies which Rossetti made of it.' Flere is the real
thing, authenticated and documented. Bro\ining records in his ac¬
companying note of iMarch 6, 1874: "Tennyson read his poem
of 'Maud' to E. B. B., R. B., Arabel [Mrs. Browning's sister] and
Rossetti on the evening of Thursday, Sept'. 27, 1855, at 13. Dorset
Street, Manchester Square. Rossetti made this sketch of Tennyson
as he sat reading to E. B. B., who occupied the other end of the

The drawing and note were included as lot 11 in the Browning
sale at Sotheby's of May 1-8, 1913. By the time Mrs. Hyde
acquired them after the A. Edward Xewton sale, they had been
mounted in the album described above and reinforced by a letter

I In a letter of November 25, 1855, to William .\IIingham, Rossetti notes that
after giving the original to Browning, he "duplicated it" for Elizabeth Siddal.
(Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ed. Oswald Doughty and J. R. Wall, 4 vols.,
Oxford, 1965-7, I, 281). This second version would seem to be that once in the
collection of William T. H. Howe. As reproduced in Victorian and Later English
Poets, cd. James Stephens, Edwin L. Beck, and Rovall H. Snow (New York,
1934), p. 95, it is indeed a virtual duplication. There is another version in the City
Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham.
  v.26,no.2(1977:Feb): Page 13