Alfred Darbyshire, F.R.I.B.A.
F. Bennett Smith
17 Brazennose Street
June 13, 1890
I have made several ineffectual efforts to answer your last on “The Water Willow” but I have been much away from home and the office lately: my work is knocking me about just now and letters outside business get neglected. Anyway I have found time to make a rough blot [?] of the “Water Willow” as the trustees did not like the idea of having it photographed and I quite agreed with them. I am sorry to tell you that the little Birket Foster was sold only the day before I got yours but the Water Willow is still yours and on your own terms of payment as proposed in your last letter. My dear old man you are fortunate in the possession of this picture and I can answer your question with certainly about the whereabouts of Rossetti’s pictures—anyhow there is no example on your side—My friends Shields, who was poor Rossetti’s closest painter friend during the latter part of his life says in a letter “No work of his has gone to America to my knowledge.” I have looked the matter up and no doubt Shields is correct.
There is much interest attached to this little picture (see [?] King Al’s life [?] especially). Gillibrand will give you some of Rossetti’s letters bearing upon it. It is signed DG Rossetti 1871.
The canvas measures on sight line 13 inches by 10 1/4 inches. The frame is Rossetti’s own design and is 6 inches wide so that the total dimensions will be 25 inches X 22 1/4 inches. [Color image of painting above. Drawings of frame at right.]
You know all about the background. William Morris told me that the place was like a bog and that they all got rheumatism and all sorts of isms—well old man I shall congratulate you when I know the picture is in your safe custody.
I have no time now to tell you all about poor Waugh, but I sent you a batch of news cuttings which would give you full accounts. Dear old chap he died like a hero often in fearful agonies during the latter part of his illness. You will see from the enclosed that your message was just too late the fertile old brain having lost its balance. Such a funeral!! "Ye man alive" it would have softened your heart to see about 20,000 Lancashire folk honouring the Bard who made their songs. It was a beautiful sight; would thou hadst been there. Good bye old man; accept the love of me and mine as usual to thee and thine and remember me
thy affectionate cousin – A Darbyshire