'The Jessamine Window', drawing towards 'The Roadside Songs of Tuscany'Artist:
, American, 1837 - 1917
Material and Medium: pen and ink on paper
Dimensions: Mount: 614 x 456m
Support: 429 x 289mm
Accession Number: CGSG04000
'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. She collected many of these songs from an elderly woman called Beatrice Bernardi, a stone labourer and shepherd, who had been locally famous for her improvised poetry and singing.
Alexander altered her translation for 'The Jessamine Window' slightly so that both the story and the rhythms of the original are retained. The song is sung by someone who serenades 'his love', who stands at her window with a Jessamine, or jasmine plant. He tells her to sing to him and he will respond.