Posted 20th March 2018
This week's #ArtistInFocus is Edward Burne-Jones, currently on display in our exhibition A Pre-Raphaelite Collection Unveiled: The Cecil French Bequest - on until 3 June.
Edward Burne-Jones (1833-98) was the key figure in the second generation of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. A close lifelong friend of the great designer William Morris, Burne-Jones designed tirelessly for stained glass and other decorative art projects in addition to becoming, with Watts, the most distinguished British artist of the age in the eyes of European critics and curators. His melancholy imagery, and exquisite line, defined the type of art in which Cecil French believed. He is, without doubt, the central figure in the Cecil French Bequest, and of the 26 works included in our exhibition, 15 are by Burne-Jones.
These works, mainly on paper, show the great range of Burne-Jones as a draughtsman, able to crate works of completely different character depending on the media adopted. There are richly coloured watercolours (Morgan le Fay, 1862), a sculptural study in white chalk of Two Seated Figures for The Lament (1865) as well as the scarcely-known large drawing of Ulysses and the Ghosts.
Finished major works by Burne-Jones include his Cupid Delivering Psyche (1867) and a version of his great Wheel of Fortune (1875) painted for the radical politician Sir Charles Dilke, who, suitably for this subject, found his career ruined after a sex scandal. (Watts's portrait of Dilke, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, is also on show at Watts Gallery.)
Watts Curatorial Team