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Rosamund was the mistress of Henry II, who built a house for her at Woodstock in Oxfordshire. Legends say that he tried to keep her safe by installing her in a house called Labyrinthus, which was in effect a maze. But Queen Eleanor found her way through by using a thread and poisoned her. The maze can be seen through the door behind the Queen. The stained glass window above Rosamund shows two lovers in an embrace. The Queen carries a small flask of poison, plus the thread that has led her through the maze. She brings with her shadowy evil forms – dragons, apes, and blood-red roses lie at her feet. In contrast, winged cherubs and shadowy doves of peace accompany Rosamund and white roses, symbolising purity and innocence, lie at her feet. Rosamond stares at the flask of poison held by the Queen, recognising her doom.
Queen Eleanor and the Fair Rosamund
oil on canvas
H 75.6 x W 66.7 cm