Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his Circle/Biographical


Henry Treffry Dunn, the author of these Recollections, was born at Truro, in 1838. For some time he was engaged as a clerk in the Cornish Bank of his native city, but when about twenty-four years of age, the artistic instinct strong within him, he abandoned the desk for the palette and brush, and adopted painting as a profession. Soon after, as he himself relates, he received an introduction to Dante Gabriel Rossetti. At once he was irresistibly attracted by the magnetism which formed one of the most noteworthy facets of the personality of that poet, painter, and leader of men, and came under the spell of that influence which he possessed over all around him, and none were ever able or willing to liberate themselves from. He forthwith took up his residence with Rossetti. Many years of close comradeship and daily intercourse followed between the chief and his disciple, and it was the good fortune of the latter, during this period, to meet on terms of intimacy those men of distinction—the record of whose achievements constitutes the history of Poetry, Art, and Letters in the nineteenth century—whom Rossetti collected around him, and to be constantly present at those frequent and prolonged meetings in the dimly-lit studio at Cheyne Walk, which were famous for their intellectual charm and brilliancy.

Henry Treffry Dunn was himself a painter of no mean ability, but for the most part he was content to remain under the shadow cast by the towering genius and capacity of the master. One of his works hangs in the council chamber of his native city—a portrait of Dr. Barham.

As may be gathered and inferred from his Recollections, in common with all who enjoyed his friendship he felt a deep affection for Rossetti as a man, and a profound admiration for him as a poet and painter. He is expressly mentioned by Mr. William Michael Rossetti as one of his brother's friends in the Preface to the Collected Works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. He died in February, 1899. Both he and his chief have long since solved the tremendous mysteries of life and death, upon which they were wont so often to speculate together