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Henry William Pickersgill RA, The Oriental Love Letter

The Oriental Love Letter, 1824

Henry William Pickersgill RA (1782 - 1875)

RA Collection: Art

H.W. Pickersgill's Diploma Work reflects a growing European interest in oriental subject matter in the first half of the 19th century. Scenes from the harem were particularly intriguing to the Victorian public and Pickersgill's wife Maria published Tales of the Harem in 1827 .

The woman dressed in richly embroidered clothing has just received a bouquet of flowers which are a symbolic, and possibly clandestine, 'love letter'. The emblematic possibilities of various flowers was alluded to in verses by Lord Byron quoted in the catalogue when the painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1824:

' …The token-flowers that tell

What words can never speak so well

By love's alternate joy and woe …'

Object details

The Oriental Love Letter
Object type
Oil on canvas

1426 mm x 1118 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by Henry William Pickersgill RA accepted 1826

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