The word ‘bower’ in this painting’s title refers to the private apartment of a medieval lady, with the subject of this artwork being the artist’s mistress. It was painted by Rossetti in 1865 and the mistress was Fanny Cornforth who had worked as a servant and found it a difficult transition to associate with some of the friends of Rossetti.
What was interesting to me is that the Rossetti Archive have listed the prices which have been paid for this work over time. It was purchased in 1865 for £120 (around £7,000 in today’s money) and was later sold to a Mr. Agnew for £500 and then eventually sold to the Barber Institute for £1,900 (around £40,000 in today’s money) in April 1959.
The same archive site also lists that the work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1883, at the Manchester Royal Jubilee Exhibition in 1887, at the Wembley British Empire Exhibition in 1924, in Newcastle in 1971 and at the Tate in 1984. I think it’s intriguing to think of people who came to these locations over the last 150 years and spent time looking at this artwork.