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Fanny Cornforth was discovered by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti as she had dinner at an event celebrating Florence Nightingale's return from the Crimean War. From that point onwards, she became one of the most divisive characters in Pre-Raphaelite art history. Rossetti's friends found her common and abrasive and his subsequent biographers labelled her a lying, thieving, illiterate sex worker whose worst crime was to become fat and old. Fanny Cornforth was actually a resourceful, compassionate woman who nursed Rossetti during his severe periods of mental illness and was generous to her fellow models. It is time to appreciate a woman who was as clever, caring and cheerful as she was beautiful.

11 artworks
Found
Photo credit: Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery

Found c.1854

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

Oil on panel

H 30.3 x W 35.8 cm

Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery

Lucrezia Borgia
Photo credit: Tate

Lucrezia Borgia 1860–1861

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

Graphite & watercolour on paper

H 43.8 x W 25.8 cm

Tate

The Backgammon Players
Photo credit: The Fitzwilliam Museum

The Backgammon Players 1861

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)

Black chalk with bodycolour on paper

H 60.2 x W 102.9 cm

The Fitzwilliam Museum

Fanny Cornforth
Photo credit: The Higgins Bedford

Fanny Cornforth 1861

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

Coloured chalks on paper

H 32.2 x W 25.9 cm

The Higgins Bedford

Fair Rosamund
Photo credit: Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

Fair Rosamund 1861

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

Oil on canvas

H 51.9 x W 41.7 cm

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

Fanny Cornforth
Photo credit: The Fitzwilliam Museum

Fanny Cornforth

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

Graphite on paper

H 38.9 x W 35.6 cm

The Fitzwilliam Museum

Fanny Cornforth – A Portrait Head
Photo credit: Southend Museums Service

Fanny Cornforth – A Portrait Head

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

Graphite on paper

H 23 x W 16 cm

Southend Museums Service

Study for 'Venus Verticordia'
Photo credit: The Courtauld

Study for 'Venus Verticordia' c.1863–c.1864

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

Graphite on paper

H 50.5 x W 36.9 cm

The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)

Aurelia (Fazio's Mistress)
Photo credit: Tate

Aurelia (Fazio's Mistress) 1863–1873

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

Oil on mahogany

H 43.2 x W 36.8 cm

Tate

The Blue Bower
Photo credit: The Henry Barber Trust, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

The Blue Bower 1865

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

Oil on canvas

H 84 x W 70.9 cm

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Fanny Cornforth II
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Southend Museums Service

Fanny Cornforth II 2010

Karen Jones (active 2010)

Acrylic on board (?)

H 100 x W 60 cm

Southend Museums Service