Three versions exist of this archetypal and famous image; the other two are in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
The first version of How They Met Themselves was made with pen and ink and brush and is dated 1851 1860. It was painted for George Price Boyce, the artist's friend, fellow Pre-Raphaelite artist and collector, during Rossetti's honeymoon in Paris in 1860, to replace the earlier pen and ink drawing of the same subject which was either lost or destroyed. In a letter to George Price Boyce dated the 4th February 1861, Rossetti expressed, his intentions to undertaking a watercolour version:
I was much wishing to execute the Bogie pen and ink drawing which you have as a watercolour and would be greatly obliged to you for the loan of it....
Rossetti, by calling it the `Bogie drawing', expressed his continuing fascination with the legend of the Doppelganger, the vision of which is a presentiment of death. To illustrate this strange theme, Rossetti chose the subject of two medieval lovers in a wood meeting their doubles who glow supernaturally. Doppelganger imagery occurs in poems he admired such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning's The Romaunt of Margaret and Poe's Silence and also frequently in his own more autobiographical poems such as Sudden Light, Even So, and Willowwood.
William Graham, Graham Sale, Christie's, 3rd April, 1886 lot 106
S. Pepys Cockerell, by descent to his grandson:
E. W. Huddart, by descent to his grandson
London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of the Works of the Old Masters, 1883, number 350
London, New Gallery, 1897, number 64
Birmingham, Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery, 1947, number 111
Virginia Surtees, Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882, A Catalogue Raisonne, 1971, page 74, number 118 R2