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A rare example of William Michael Rossetti as a draughtsman; his sitter a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. F.G. Stephens (1828-1907) studied at the Royal Academy Schools and struggled to become an artist in the early 1850s, but technical difficulties and lack of encouragement caused him to abandon painting for writing and journalism. Above all he is known for the articles he wrote as art critic in the Athenaeum, a post he held for forty years (1861-1901).
Frederick George Stephens was much portrayed by his fellow PRBs. Holman Hunt painted him in 1846-7 (Tate Britain), and Millais drew him as part of the series of PRB portraits that were executed for Thomas Woolner in April 1853 (National Portrait Gallery). He was also the model for the figure of Ferdinand in Millais' painting Ferdinand lured by Ariel of 1849-50 (private collection). For another sketch of him by William Michael Rossetti, see Angela Thirlwell, William and Lucy: The Other Rossettis, Yale, 2003, page 113, illustrated figure 62.
This sensitive portrait of F G Stephen’s belonged to Willam Michael Rossetti, Pre-Raphaelie brother and the younger brother of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and has descended through his family to December 2010. The artist, William Rothenstein, who painted William Michael's portrait (National Portrait Gallery) in 1909, recalled in his reminiscences, Men and Memories (1931), how his sitter's house in Primrose Hill, 3 St Edmund's Terrace, was full of paintings and drawings by Dante Gabriel and Ford Madox Brown ... he [also] had countless small drawings by his brother put away in drawers, which he would bring out from time to time.
William Michael Rossetti; thence by descent to:
Helen Rossetti Angelli; to her daughter:
Mrs Imogen Dennis; by descent to 2010