The woman sketched here is Amorous Desire from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen
. This drawing is part of a series Burne-Jones made as a study for a planned work called The Masque of Cupid
, which he started in 1872 and never finished. When he returned to this endeavour in 1897, he no longer found Spenser’s poetry inspiring, instead describing it as ‘weary to plod through’.
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones
Date of work
Original: Graphite on paper 21 x 13.3 cm Tate. Presented by Sir Philip Burne-Jones Bt 1910 Photo: © Tate 2018
An English painter, Sir Edward Burne-Jones was born in Birmingham and educated at Oxford, where he met his lifelong friend William Morris. He studied briefly under Dante Gabriel Rossetti but soon outgrew his influence despite retaining great respect for him. Burne-Jones later visited Italy with John Ruskin, seeing works by Botticelli and Mantegna which had a profound influence on him. From 1878, Burne-Jones gained a European reputation and influenced both continental Symbolism and Art Nouveau.