Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Bt (1833-1898), Painter and designer

Painter and stained-glass designer; born 28 August 1833 in Birmingham, son of a frame-maker. Educated at Oxford University where he became a close friend of William Morris; influenced by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Ruskin and became leading figure in later Pre-Raphaelite movement; exhibition debut Hogarth Club 1858; elected to Old Water Colour Society 1863 (resigned 1870), ARA 1885 (resigned 1893); leading artist at Grosvenor Gallery 1877–87 and New Gallery; also held several prestigious exhibitions in Paris 1878, 1889, 1893, 1900 and Brussels 1897; from 1861 partner in and foremost stained-glass designer for Morris & Co.; also renowned for unpublished illustrations for Morris’s Earthly Paradise and those for the Kelmscott Press Chaucer (1890); later work fed into the Aesthetic and Symbolist movements; married Georgiana Macdonald 1860 and from 1867 lived at The Grange, North End Road, West Kensington, with a second home in Rottingdean, Sussex; died 16 June 1898, at Kensington.

His work was described by Henry James as ‘the art of culture, of reflection, of intellectual luxury, of aesthetic refinement … furnished by literature, by poetry, by history, by erudition’; [1] and by the artist as aiming to create ‘a beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be … in a land no one can define or remember, but only desire’. [2] Although its reputation sank low in the twentieth century, the revival of Pre-Raphaelite fortunes from 1970 has made it again extremely popular.

Physically, he was described as:

Rather tall and very thin, though not especially slender, straightly built and with wide shoulders … The shape of his head was domed, and noticeable for its even balance; his forehead, wide and rather high, was smooth and calm … From the eyes themselves power simply radiated, and as he talked and listened, if anything moved him, not only his eyes but his whole face seemed lit up from within. [3]

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) James 1956, pp.144–7.
2) Quoted Monkhouse 1899b, p.vii.
3) Burne-Jones 1904, vol.1, p.133.

Referencesback to top

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Arscott, C., William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones: Interlacings, New Haven and London, 2008.

Beerbohm 1904
Beerbohm, M., The Poets’ Corner, London, 1904.

Beerbohm 1943
Beerbohm, M., The Poets’ Corner, [London, 1904] enlarged ed., 1943.

Beerbohm 1922
Beerbohm, M., Rossetti and His Circle, London, 1922.

Beerbohm 1987
Beerbohm, M., Rossetti and His Circle, [London, 1922] repr. with additions, New Haven and London, 1987.

Bell 1892
Bell, M., Sir Edward Burne-Jones: A Record and Review, London, 1892.

Bradley 1978
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Burne-Jones 1904
Burne-Jones, G., Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, 2 vols, London, 1904.

Calloway & Orr 2011
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Christian 1981
Christian, J., The Little Holland House Album by Edward Burne-Jones, North Berwick, East Lothian, 1981.

Christian 2011
Christian, J., Edward Burne-Jones the Hidden Humourist, London, 2011

Christian 1998
Christian, J., ed., Letters to Katie: from Edward Burne-Jones, London, 1998.

Cruise 2005
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Lusk 1905
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Dr Jan Marsh