Edward Burne-Jones

Edward Burne-Jones was born in 1833 in Birmingham, England.  His mother died in labor and as a result, he struggled financially his whole childhood.  Despite this financial hardship, he attended school at Oxford which is where he decided to pursue a career as an artist. He was influenced highly by the works of Pre-Raphaelites: Millais, Ford Madox Brown, Holman Hunt, and Rossetti.  His works influenced the end of this period shifting from realism to more stylized images.

His personal life was tumultuous as a young man. At the age of 27, he married Georgie Macdonald. She was well-liked by all of the new friends he met in his then increasing success but this did not stop Jones from falling for Maria Zambaco. His affair was a large strain on his marriage but he did ultimately reunite with his wife.  After this period, he became much more socially involved and seemed to mostly agree with his wife’s opinions. Notably, he became a well-established socialist in the political sphere.

He completed many series of paintings; the most relevant to our class was the four-part series entitled, ” The Briar Rose”.  The pieces included below, depict the kingdom asleep under the one hundred year curse.  The topmost picture is titled “The Briar Wood”. It shows the princes who were caught and killed by the thorns of the bramble. The next picture is titled “The Garden Court” which shows the ladies of the court asleep in the garden. “The Council Chamber”, shows the King and Queen asleep on their thrones as the other members of the royal party have fallen to the floor.  The last picture is “The Rose Bower” and depicts sleeping beauty asleep on a bed with what is assumedly her ladies in waiting around her.  I personally like Jones’s stylized figures and appreciate how these pictures ring more true to the Grimm version of the tale.  Personally, the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty is how I tend to think of the tale. Seeing images more true to the story we read in class is interesting and provides me with a better image of that story.

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