If he would come to-day

Frederick Sandys

1866

Wood engraving by Joseph Swain

6 ¼ x 4 ½ inches

Illustration for The Argosy (Midsummer Volume, 1866): facing 336.

This is another example of Sandy’s monumental figure drawing, which bears a close relationship to his other portraits of women, charting a emotions ranging from despair to sexual arousal. Here, though, the emphasis is on petulant impatience and frustration, with the girl tugging on strands of grass while chewing her hair. These small but telling gestures stand in contrapuntal opposition to the weighty stillness of her crinoline and the heavily blocked contours of the landscape. This tension dramatizes the conflict between movement and inaction, his arrival and the fact that nothing is happening. Highly finished, the design perfectly catches the mood of frustration, and represents a clever interpretation of Rossetti’s verse.