spenser's faery queene

George Frederic Watts (1817-1904)
“Una and the Red Cross Knight” (1860)
Oil on canvas
Located in St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University, Oxford, England

Inspired by Book I from “The Faerie Queene” by Edmund Spenser. In the story the Red Crosse Knight and his lady Una travel together.




1. Obsolete. a loving look.

From Italian bel guardo.

“Upon her eyelids many Graces sate, / Under the shadow of her euen browes, / Working belgards, and amorous retrate […].
- Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene


Tales of knights and virtues that pulled readers out of the soot and smog of the industrial age were the ideal material for Arts and Crafts designers. This 1898 edition of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene was published by J.M. Dent and illustrated with woodcuts designed by Louis Fairfax-Muckley, who had previously worked for William Morris’s Kelmscott Press.  This edition is remarkable for its binding decorations, which were hand-painted by Fairfax-Muckley and bound by Cedric Chivers, using a technique called “Vellucent.” With this process, artists painted and gilted directly onto the boards, before covering their artwork with an ultra-thin and translucent piece of vellum to protect the images. DB

The Cave of Despair
(from Edmund Spenser’s ‘The Faerie Queene’, Book 1, Canto 9, Lines 8–35)
by Charles Lock Eastlake

Date painted: 1830
Oil on canvas, 79.4 x 51.5 cm
Collection: Sir John Soane’s Museum