'The Head of St Ursula', detail from 'The Dream of St Ursula', after CarpaccioArtist:
, Italian, 1854 - 1931
, Venetian, 1460 - 1526
Material and Medium: watercolour and bodycolour on paper
Dimensions: Frame: 608 x 624mm
Sight size: 401 x 380mm
Accession Number: CGSG00110
Alessandri copied this detail from a cycle of nine paintings by the artist Vittore Carpaccio (1460-1526) which tell the story of St Ursula, a Christian princess from Roman times. The detail comes from the fifth painting in the cycle, in which the sleeping Ursula is visited by an angel, who foretells her martyrdom.
John Ruskin, who admired Carpaccio’s works, commissioned this copy. He too had painted the scene, writing ‘'There she lies, so real, that when the room's quite quiet, I get afraid of waking her.’
In later years, especially in times of mental illness Ruskin came to link these paintings with Rose LaTouche, the love of his life. Rose died prematurely, possibly of anorexia, and Ruskin found both comfort and grief in the images of Ursula, and looked in them for spiritual messages from Rose. Ruskin found this painting particularly poignant as it reminded him of his visit to Rose on her deathbed.