'The Colonel's Leave', drawing towards 'The Roadside Songs of Tuscany'
Date Made/Found: 1882-1883
, American, 1837 - 1917
Material and Medium: pen and ink on paper
Dimensions: Frame: 660 x 501 x 15mm
Sight size: 350 x 264mm
Accession Number: CGSG00173
'The Roadside Songs of Tuscany' is a decorative book of twenty songs, collected from the countryside around Florence. Alexander transcribed and translated the songs, noted down the tunes and illustrated scenes from each ballad using local people as models. Together, she and John Ruskin used the book to raise money for the area’s poorer families.
Alexander also wanted to preserve a fast disappearing part of the area’s culture. This song was sung to her by, in her words, 'Annina Bini, a beautiful woman and sweet singer'. It tells of a soldier who is granted leave in hearing his lover is dying. On reaching her village, the soldier hears the church bells tolling, and finds that she is already dead. Saying farewell to her family he laments that he hasn’t died with her.
The line at the bottom of this illustration reads 'Parlami, palarmi, boccin d'amore', which translates as 'speak to me, speak to me, little mouth of love.'