rossetti’s wombat

Rossetti’s Wombat Seated in His Master’s Lap
William Bell Scott (1811-1890)

At first glance, this is just a very nice animal drawing.  And then you think, wait.  “Rossetti’s wombat”? As in Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the Pre Raphaelite painter?  Since when did Rossetti have a wombat, and one that was so well known that other artists were drawing his portrait?  They never taught us anything about a wombat in Art History class.

It turns out that Rossetti loved animals, and had a whole menagerie of exotic pets, including a woodchuck and a Japanese giant salamander.  But he was apparently particularly fond of his wombats, enough so that he made this drawing when one of them died:

Rossetti Lamenting the Death of His Wombat
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
pen and ink, 1869

Read the whole story on the British Museum website here. This makes me like Dante Gabriel Rossetti a whole lot more than I did before.

And “Rossetti’s Wombat” would make a great name for a band, or a title for a comic.


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