The title of this painting comes from a poem by Robert Browning, but isn’t a direct rendition of the poem’s action. The narrator of the poem looks forward to greeting his lover, who waits for him in a pasture which was once a glorious city, whilst the lovers in Burne-Jones’ painting are entwined in the ruins, with briar roses growing up around them. The painting is given added poignancy by the common belief that the female lover alludes to Maria Zambaco, with whom Burne-Jones had a doomed relationship.
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones
Love among the Ruins
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.