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Edward Burne-Jones’ Mythical Paintings

The Pygmalion of the Pre-Raphaelite Painters

Liana De Girolami Cheney

This book focuses on Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ mythical paintings from 1868 to 1886. His artistic training and traveling experiences, his love for the Greek-sculptress, Maria Zambaco, and his aesthetic sensibility provided the background for these mythical paintings. This book analyzes two main concepts: Burne-Jones’ assimilation of Neoplatonic ideal beauty as depicted in his solo and narrative paintings, and Burne-Jones’ fusion of the classical and emblematic traditions in his imagery.


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Part III. Narrative Paintings: Love, Music, and the femme fatale


PART III Narrative Paintings: Love, Music, and the femme fatale This last part focuses on Burne-Jones’ solo narrative paintings, addressing artisitc aspects that allude to cultural concerns of the fin-de-siècle in relation to the concept of a woman, a femme fatale or female ingénue, as well as continuing the theme of unfulfilled love, unrequited love or love as an impossible dream. Burne-Jones’ aesthetics reflect the interaction between art and literature, and his paintings reveal the power of the images and love. His painting, Love Among the Ruins of 1894, and his love-song paintings such as The Love Song of 1868–77, Allegory of Music of 1877, and Chant d’Amou (The Lament) of 1865–66, reveal his endless love for the beautiful Maria Cassavetti Zambaco (Portrait of Maria Zambaco of 1870). She is his muse and enchantress. Through his love, he creates paintings that are depictions of love and music, which capture a realm of artistic imagination. Burne-Jones’ femme fatale imagery impacts the Symbolist movement in Europe, particularly in Paris.1 His images will continue to project an appeal to the senses, a quest for the depiction of beauty and a delight in composing fanciful paintings. Burne-Jones notes, “To love beauty nowadays is to be in torment. The world now wants very much to go back into barbarism, it is sick and tire of the arts. It is tired of beauty.”2 CHAPTER TEN Edward Burne-Jones’ Love Songs: Art, Music, and Magic “Heart, thou and I are here, sad and...

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