A Romantic figure in classical dress: the gipsy girl Esmeralda, whom the Salon sculptor presents erotically exposed, originated in Victor Hugo's medieval novel 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame', published in 1831. Her curly hair neatly parted and tied with a ribbon, Esmeralda shows her companion, the goat Djali, the cards laid out on the tambourine. The cards do not seem to reveal that this character in the novel will be burned at the stake. Rossetti portrays the young woman as quite meek and gentle. Here, the stereotypical picture of the vivacious gypsy woman has been abandoned in favour of a classical Salon beauty.
The Frankfurt Kunstverein (Art Society) was founded in 1829 with the aim of collectively furthering the arts. It initially regarded its primary role as supporting the Städel through the acquisition of artworks. At the beginning the Kunstverein and the Städel in fact shared premises, which in those days was still in Neue Mainzer Straße. Even after the Städel moved into its own building in 1878, the connection remained a close one. To this day, donations of art on the part of the society continue to express the shared tradition of art promotion and support.