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The subject of this picture is based on a poem called 'Christabel' by the Romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It tells the story of her encounter with a stranger called Geraldine, who claims to have been abducted from her home by a band of rough men. Dyce depicts the part of the story where Christabel goes into the woods to pray to the large oak tree and, on hearing a noise, discovers Geraldine behind the tree. With his minute attention to detail, brilliant colours and romantic literary subject, Dyce displays many of the qualities admired by the Pre-Raphaelites. However, he arrived at this style of painting quite independently by making study trips to Italy. There he came into contact with the German Nazarene painters in Rome, who were inspired by 15th-century Italian religious painting.
oil on panel
H 54 x W 44.8 cm
presented by the Trustees of the Hamilton Bequest, 1965