- Museum number
The Death of Breuse sans Pitié; combat between two knights in a wooded landscape, a woman with a rope around her neck to their left and a man hangs from a tree (centre).
Watercolour and bodycolour with scratching out and gum arabic on paper laid on linen
- Production date
- 1857 (Retouched 1865)
Height: 495 millimetres
Width: 343 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The character of Sir Breuse Sans Pitié appears in 'The Book of Sir Tristram de Lyones.' in Malory's 'Morte d'Arthur' although Malory does not describe the scene of his death.
Label text from, John Christian; Collecting the Last Romantics, 2019:
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
The Death of Breuse sans Pitié, 1857 retouched 1864-65
Watercolour and bodycolour on paper laid on linen heightened with scratching out and gum arabic
Here a lush, green landscape is the backdrop for a scene based on Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, first published in 1485.
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table fuelled the Pre-Raphaelite fascination with medieval forms and subject matter. Rossetti invented this scene which shows the violent death of Sir Breuse sans Pitié, an enemy of King Arthur’s knights who escapes death in combat throughout Malory’s text.
This is one of a group of watercolours purchased by William Morris in the late 1850s, five of which are now in the collections of the Tate Britain.
Morris sold the group in the 1860s. The present work was purchased by the banker George Rae and retouched by Rossetti around 1864-65.
It appeared in the Leverhulme sale in New York on March 4th 1926 and for the next 67 years was untraced, until it remerged at a London sale in 1993.
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax from the John Christian collection and allocated to the British Museum, 2019
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2019, Sept 3-Nov 12, John Christian: Collecting the Last Romantics.
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Morte d'Arthur
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The present work was one of a group of Rossetti watercolours bought by William Morris in the late 1850s. Five of these early watercolours were bought for the Tate Gallery in 1916: 'Paolo and Francesca.' 'The blue closet.' 'The damsel of Sanct Grael' 'The tune of seven towers' and 'The chapel before the lists.' 'The death of Breuse Sans Pitié' was considered to be missing from the group. It was sold by the Anderson Galleries (New York) to a private collector in America in 1926 (4 March, 1926, Lot 270). It was listed in Christie's catalogue of 'Fine Victorian Pictures, Drawings and Watercolours' Friday 11th June 1993, Lot No. 80.
John Christian retained a receipt of sale 5021, 11th June 1993 in the name of Virginia Surtees.
Inscribed on the back of the frame with provenance history and dated and "Reframed by Maas Gallery."
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number