Painted for Rowntree’s by Walter West in 1891, Ye White Rose of York symbolises the city and its greatest industry.
A serving girl, all dressed in white (the colour of the York rose), wearing the crossed keys of St. Peter tied from her waist (St. Peter’s is the real name of York Minster) and a Quaker-like cap on her head (the Rowntree family were Quakers) carries a serving tray on which rests a steaming pot of cocoa and a posy of more white roses. The wallpaper in the background is dotted with more crossed keys and more roses. The painting sends a clear message: the Quakers of York serve the British their chocolate.
Sadly the painting has been missing for some time and the last verified sighting was in 1951. One photograph exists in the archive which shows the painting, without a frame, leaning against some floral wallpaper, looking very sorry for itself. Either someone has attempted some poor restoration and disfigured the painting’s face, or our White Rose is real, and somewhere her painting is aging as Oscar Wilde predicted it could.
Right click on any of the images below and select open in new tab to see a larger version of the image.
Ye White Rose of York: One of many colour prints
Ye White Rose of York: A turn of the century postcard
Ye White Rose of York: Pictured here in 1951; the face of the White Rose is undamaged as she poses for a photograph with a new frame
Ye White Rose of York: Copies of the White Rose appeared on advertising stands
Ye White Rose of York: Many people will remember the White Rose from 1960s tins of Rowntree's cocoa
Ye White Rose of York: Was this the last sighting of the White Rose? Did a badly executed restoration attempt cause her to be hidden by a well-meaning employee? Or is the living, breathing White Rose at large in Yorkshire, safe in the knowledge that her portrait is under lock and key in her attic?
If you have seen the original of this painting, or know where it might be please tweet us @NestleUKNews or contact our Consumer Services department.