Arthur HUGHES<br/>
<em>Fair Rosamund</em> (1854) <!-- (recto) --><br />

oil on cardboard<br />
40.3 x 30.5 cm<br />
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne<br />
Gift of Miss Eva Gilchrist in memory of her uncle P. A. Daniel, 1956<br />
3334-4<br />


Fair Rosamund


British art
British art

Fair Rosamund (1854)

oil on cardboard
40.3 × 30.5 cm
inscribed in white paint l.l.: A. Hughes
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Miss Eva Gilchrist in memory of her uncle P. A. Daniel, 1956
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International
About this work

Poison was the weapon of choice for murderesses during the nineteenth century, with arsenic implicated in nearly a third of all criminal cases in Victorian Britain. It is not surprising, then, that the story of Rosamund, mistress of Henry II of England, resonated with artists and poets during this period. According to legend, Henry created a secret garden for Rosamund, accessible only by a maze on his property at Oxfordshire. The garden was discovered by the king’s wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who then poisoned Rosamund. Here, Hughes uses deadly foxgloves to symbolise the unfolding narrative.

Subjects (general)
History and Legend Human Figures Relationships and Interactions
Subjects (specific)
archways flowers (plant components) gardens (open spaces) Medievalism mistresses (romantic partners) murders (deaths) wives women (female humans)
Exhibited Winter Exhibition, French Gallery, London, 1854; collection of Peter Augustine Daniel (d. 1917), London, 1854–1917; by descent to Miss Eva K. Gilchrist (d. 1956), 1917; by whom donated to the NGV, 1956.


Further reading