Rossetti’s “very best picture” returns to City of London’s art gallery

One of the most popular paintings at Guildhall Art Gallery will return to public view in the City this week, after being featured in two major exhibitions in London and the USA on the life and work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The painting will be reinstalled at the City of London Corporation-owned Guildhall Art Gallery on International Women’s Day - Friday 8 March – with free family activities at the gallery on Saturday (9 March) to help celebrate the work’s return.

Described by the Pre-Raphaelite artist and poet as “my very best picture”, La Ghirlandata was loaned to Tate Britain for ‘The Rossettis’ exhibitions in London and Delaware Art Museum.

The 1873 oil on canvas depicts ‘the garlanded woman’ playing an arpanetta and looking directly at the viewer. The artist’s muse for the central figure was the actor and model, Alexa Wilding, with two ‘angels’ in the top corners posed by William and Jane Morris’ youngest daughter, May Morris.

La Ghirlandata was acquired by the City of London Corporation in 1927 for its permanent art collection and is usually displayed in the gallery’s main Victorian exhibition space. More details here –

In 2018, Bank of America awarded an Art Conservation Grant to the City Corporation to facilitate an extensive restoration of the painting. The grant enabled conservators to undertake the restoration, which included scientific paint analysis and visual imaging to examine, test, and treat the painting and its frame.

Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage, and Libraries Committee, Munsur Ali, said:

“I hope that visitors to Tate Britain at Millbank and Delaware Art Museum have enjoyed viewing this beautiful and engaging Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece, which has always delighted art lovers at Guildhall Art Gallery.

“Among the many undeniably impressive Victorian and contemporary art works on display around the gallery, ‘La Ghirlandata’ is one of the jewels in its crown and one of the most iconic paintings held in our collection.”

Guildhall Art Gallery is an integral part of the City’s arts and cultural offering and forms part of the City of London Corporation's Destination City programme, which sets out a vision for the Square Mile to become a world-leading leisure destination for UK and international visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.

The City Corporation is one of the largest funders of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £130m every year. The organisation manages a range of world-class cultural and heritage institutions, including the Barbican Centre, Tower Bridge, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Guildhall Art Gallery, London Metropolitan Archives, and Keats House. It also supports the London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London.


Notes to Editors:

For media enquiries, images, and requests for interviews with the City of London Corporation’s Head of Guildhall Art Gallery, Elizabeth Scott, please contact Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer (Arts, Culture, and Heritage), City of London Corporation / 07795 333060 /

About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages Guildhall Art Gallery, is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally successful UK –

 About Guildhall Art Gallery:

The historic Guildhall Art Gallery originally opened in 1886 and is home to City of London’s magnificent art collection. Particularly rich in Victorian art and ranging from Pre-Raphaelites to depictions of London’s colourful past, the Gallery’s basement houses the remains of London’s Roman Amphitheatre, dating from AD70. The Gallery also owns one of the largest oil paintings in Britain, John Singleton Copley’s Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar (1783 – 1791), which is on permanent display.

Guildhall Art Gallery is open Monday to Sunday, 10:30am to 4:30pm - and from 12 April, the opening hours will be extended from 10am to 5pm. Guildhall Yard, London, EC2V 5AE. Free admission to the permanent collection. Booking recommended. Tel: 020 7332 3700