This piece, using coloured chalks and gold, is the paper cartoon for a stained glass window Morris & Co were commissioned to create for St Martin’s church in Cumbria. Burne-Jones used the popular medieval theme of the pelican feeding her brood with blood from her own breast as a metaphor for Christ’s love and sacrifice for humanity.
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones
The Pelican in her Piety
Date of work
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.