Griselda, 1874
David Watson Stevenson (1842-1904)
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum


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The Decameron, by the Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), is a collection of one hundred stories told, over ten days, by ten young people who have fled to the countryside to escape plague-ridden Florence. Griselda appears in the tenth story of the tenth day – the final tale of the book. Griselda was put through a series of humiliating tests by her husband, Gualtieri, a young Marquis, all of which she bore with good humour and patience. Her final trial was to be thrown out of the house barefoot, wearing nothing but a shift (chemise) to cover herself. The story ends happily, however, with the two reconciled and Gualtieri convinced he has the most loyal and perfect wife in the world.

Born in Edinburgh, David Watson (D W) Stevenson studied at the Trustees’ Academy, Edinburgh. From 1860 he took an eight-year apprenticeship under the sculptor William Brodie. He became known for his portrait sculptures executed in marble and bronze. His best known and most iconic work is the 1869 bronze figure of William Wallace on the Wallace Monument near Stirling.


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