Heinrich Frauenlob

Matthew James Lawless

3 October 1863

Wood engraving by Swain.

6¼ x 4½ inches

Illustration for a poem by G. C. Swayne, Once a Week, 9 (June–December 1863): 394.

Another scene of dignified grieving which represents the women of Mainz, whose cause was championed by the poet, carrying his coffin to the cathedral, an event from 1318. This type of ensemble piece is fairly unusual in Lawless’s work, demonstrating his capacity to manage larger groups as well as individual dramas. The women are characterised in the manner of Pre-Raphaelite beauties, and the medieval backgrounds and costumes are closely linked to others working in that idiom, notably Dante Rossetti, Frederick Sandys and J.E. Millais. The image also presents a characteristically Pre-Raphaelite tension between depth and surface, verisimilitude and pattern, with the unfurling banner seeming to both define and deny the space it apparently occupies.

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