Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Edward Burne-Jones - part 2

c1864 Sir Edward Burne-Jones by John Watkins, or by Cundall, Downes & Co
albumen carte-de-visite 9.2 x 5.9 cm
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Edward Burne-Jones became a founding member of William Morris’s decorative art firm in 1861, where he produced countless designs and illustrations for books, tapestries, ceramic tiles, mosaics and stained glass. In 1862, he travelled to Italy where he was introduced to Botticelli, whose formal patterning profoundly influenced his subsequent development as a painter. His typical subject matter derived from medieval and classical legends charged with symbolism. In fact, he was pre-eminent in the Aesthetic movement in England and the Symbolist movement in Europe. A defining characteristic of Burne-Jones as an artist was his wilful blurring of the boundaries between his painting and his decorative work.

For more information on Burne-Jones, and for earlier works, see part 1 also.

This is part 2 of a 14-part series on the works of Edward Burne-Jones.

1860c Charlemagne
design for embroidery 78.7 x 41.9 cm
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

c1860 Tiles
earthenware painted in blue and white
Victoria & Albert Museum, London


c1860 Tiles
earthenware painted in blue and white
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

early 1860s Head Study of a Woman
red chalk over pencil, cream toned paper 13.7 x 18.2 cm
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK

1860s The Story of Cupid and Psyche
wood engraving 11.1 x 16.6 cm

1860s The Story of Cupid and Psyche
wood engraving 11.4 x 8.7 cm

1860s The Story of Cupid and Psyche
wood engraving 11.4 x 8.7 cm

1860s The Story of Cupid and Psyche
wood engraving 11.4 x 16.3 cm

1860s The Story of Cupid and Psyche
wood engraving 11.7 x 9.2 cm

1860s The Story of Cupid and Psyche
wood engraving 15.4 x 20.7 cm

1860s The Story of Cupid and Psyche
wood engraving 16.5 x 10.9 cm

1860s The Story of Cupid and Psyche
wood engraving 20.1 x 15 cm

1860s-70s Study of two male figures for the unfinished painting 'Styx' 
black chalk on paper 23.5 x 13.5 cm
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

1860s-70s Study of two male figures for the unfinished painting 'Styx'
graphite on paper 18 x 12.8 cm
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

c1873 Souls on the Banks of the River Styx
oil on canvas 89 x 69.8 cm

1861 Dido
graphite and watercolour on fabric 25.4 x 12.7 cm
Tate, London

1861 Fair Rosamund and Queen Eleanor
mixed media on paper 49.5 x 37.5 cm
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT

1861 Figure of a Queen
watercolour and graphite on fabric 25.4 x 13 cm
Tate, London

1861 King René's Honeymoon
pen, India ink and wash over coloured chalk and pencil, on paper 34.2 x 55 cm
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK

1861 Merlin and Nimue
watercolour and gouache 94.2 x 81.5 cm
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

1861 The Annunciation and the Adoration of the Magi

This Triptych was originally commissioned for the Church of St Paul's, Brighton. It is one of the most important large-scale works from the early part of Burne-Jones's career. After it had been installed in St Paul's he decided that the central panel was too complicated and went on to paint a second version for the church. His handling of the Biblical story owes much to the paintings of the Italian Renaissance, particularly to nativity scenes by Fra Angelico and Tintoretto. He was also influenced by Rossetti, who was then working on a triptych for Llandaff Cathedral. Among those who modelled for the picture were William and Jane Morris, and the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne.

1861 The Annunciation and the Adoration of the Magi
oil on three canvases
108.6 x 73.7 cm / 108.6 x 156.2 cm / 108.6 x 73.7 cm
Tate, London

1861 The Annunciation and the Adoration of the Magi 
oil on canvas 108.6 x 73.7 cm
Tate, London

1861 The Annunciation and the Adoration of the Magi
oil on canvas 108.6 x 156.2 cm
 Tate, London

1861 The Annunciation and the Adoration of the Magi
oil on canvas 108.6 x 73.7 cm
 Tate, London

1861 The Goldfish Pool
oil on canvas
Tulle House Museum and Art Gallery Trust, Carlisle, UK

1861 Thisbe
graphite and watercolour on fabric 25.4 x 13.3 cm
Tate, London

1861-62 Theseus and the Minotaur

Burne-Jones's accounts for early 1862 list two designs for 'Theseus' tiles, of which this is the only one known, but may have been executed as early as 1861. It shows a four five-inch tile format for the narrative scene and a mediaeval-style interpretation of the subject matter, with Theseus dressed in a tunic of Late Gothic damask or brocade and the Minotaur peering, gargoyle-like, round the labyrinth wall. It derives not from ancient mythology, but from Chaucer's retelling of the Greek story in his 'Legend of Good Women', which explains its medieval character.


1861-62 Theseus and the Minotaur in the Labyrinth
tile design pencil, brown wash, pen and ink on paper 25.5 x 26.1 cm
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK

1861-64 (made) Dido and Cleopatra
stained glass 47 x 43.2 cm
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

1861-64 (made) The God of Love and Alceste
stained glass 47 x 53.2 cm
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

1861 Clerk Saunders

Burne-Jones had a 'passionate sympathy' for Sir Walter Scott's collection of romantic ballads, 'The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border'. One of the poems in the anthology was the source of this watercolour. The incident depicted comes at the end of the ballad of 'Clerk Saunders', when Margaret is visited by the spirit of her dead lover, the Clerk of the title, who has been murdered by her brothers. The flowing lines of the costumes are self-consciously mediaeval and may have been inspired by the clothes William Morris designed for his wife and other women of his and Burne-Jones's circle.


1861 Clerk Saunders
watercolour on paper 69.9 x 41.8 cm
Tate, London

c1861 Study for Clerk Saunders
graphite on paper 29.7 x 14.8 cm
Tate, London

1861 Sketchbook 
Graphite, pen and ink, watercolour 
Victoria & Albert Museum, London









1861 The Backgammon Players

Made the year William Morris’s design firm was founded, this cabinet is one of the company’s earliest attempts to fine and applied arts. The architect Philip Webb devised the frame and Byrne-Jones ornamented the doors with a game-playing couple; a traditional metaphor for courtship.

When the piece was shown in the Mediaeval Court at the International Exhibition in London in 1862, critics disparaged the “crude” structure and colour, but praised the “beautifully painted” figures.


c1861 Possibly a study for The Backgammon Players
graphite on paper 21 x 22.5 cm
Tate, London

1861 The Backgammon Players
painted and gilded pine, painted leather, copper hardware, painted iron hinges
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1861 The Backgammon Players 
detail

1861 The Backgammon Players 
detail

c1861 Head of a Girl 
graphite on paper 18.6 x 14 cm
Tate, London


c1861 Head of a Man 
graphite on paper 11.4 x 13 cm
Tate, London

c1861 Head of a Woman
graphite on paper 14 x 16.6 cm
Tate, London

c1861 Study for The Adoration of the Magi
graphite on paper 15.4 x 14.5 cm
Tate, London

1861c Woman in an Interior
graphite and watercolour on paper 22.5 x 31.8 cm
Tate, London

1862 (published) Sigurd the Crusader
engraved by the Dalziel Brothers
wood engraving on paper 15.6 x 11.4 cm
Tate, London

1861-80 Cupid and Psyche 

1865 Study for Cupid and Psyche
 black and white chalk on brown paper 42.5 x 27.5 cm
Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA
© President and Fellows of Harvard College

1865-67 Cupid and Psyche
oil on canvas
Manchester Art Gallery, UK

1866 Cupid finding Psyche
watercolour and gouache
The British Museum, London

1867 Cupid Delivering Psyche
watercolour, body colour, chalk & oil pastel on paper 52.1 x 61 cm
The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford, UK

1870 Cupid and Psyche
(Maria Cassavetti Zambaco, model) 
Clemens-Sels-Museum, Dusseldorf, Germany

1870 Study for Cupid finding Psyche
graphite on paper 19.3 x 16 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

1870c Cupid finding Psyche
watercolour, gouache and pastel on wove paper mounted on linen 70.2 x 48.3 cm
Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, CT

1872-80 Cupid finding Psyche asleep by a Fountain
oil on canvas 124.5 x 119.5 cm
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK

1872-81 Psyche receiving the Casket back
oil on canvas 119 x 183 cm
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK

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