Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his Circle/Prefatory

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Having been invited to write a few words of introduction to the reminiscences of my brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, left by Mr. Henry Treffry Dunn, I very readily assent. I was personally cognizant of most of the circumstances here related, and am therefore qualified to state whether this account of them is or is not a genuine contribution to my brother's biography.

I have no hesitation in saying that it is perfectly genuine, and gives, from the writer's point of view, a very fair notion of what Dante Rossetti did in those years, and what he was like. The narrative was not known to me until May last, when a transcript of it was produced to me by Mrs. Hume, a sister of Mr. Dunn. I read it with satisfaction, and made, on points of detail, various observations to which the Editor, Mr. Gale Pedrick, has been so good as to pay heedful and ample attention.

It will be apparent to the readers of this narrative that in the years which it covers, Mr. Dunn saw as much of Dante Rossetti as any other person whatsoever did, or indeed more, if one looks to continuous day-by-day association. He witnessed his comings-out and goings-in, and was highly familiar with his methods of work as a painter. Every look of his countenance, every intonation of his voice, every mood of his temper—sunny, overcast, or variously shifting—was known to the narrator.

My own acquaintance with Mr. Dunn covered the whole period of his connection with my brother, and extended to a couple of years or so beyond the death of the latter, April, 1882. After that date, as it happened, I did not meet him again. I had a very sincere regard for Mr. Dunn, perceiving him to be upright and straightforward in all his dealings, a valuable professional auxiliary for my brother to have secured, and always anxious to serve Rossetti's true interests in matters outside the pictorial range. He did a good deal towards keeping things straight in an establishment where the master's rather unthrifty and negligent habits in household affairs might easily have made them crooked. Mr. Dunn was a pleasant and helpful companion, conversant with several matters unrelated to the artistic career. I should have liked to see a portrait of him in this volume. In default of that, I may say that he was a man of middle height, with a narrow visage, a rather dark but ruddy complexion, dark, telling eyes, and a full crop of hair, prematurely grey.

London, September, 1903.