Show me:
and
Clear all filters

  • 35 items
  • 25 items Explore
  • 89 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,443 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 871 items
  • 4 items
  • 220 items
  • 12,230 items Explore
  • 209 items Explore
  • 1,232 items Explore
  • 8,487 items Explore
  • 5,045 items Explore
  • 167 items Explore
  • 12,992 items Explore
  • 13,621 items Explore
  • 4,806 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 5 items
  • 153 items Explore
  • 2,082 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 4,748 items Explore
  • 13 items Explore
  • 437 items Explore
  • 267 items
  • 19,827 items Explore
  • 34 items Explore
  • 1,911 items Explore
  • 1,083 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 2,048 items Explore
  • 449 items Explore
  • 920 items Explore
  • 1 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 7 items
  • 20,123 items
  • 800 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 73 items Explore
  • 33 items
  • 797 items
  • 20 items
  • 4 items
  • 26 items
  • 61 items
  • 28 items
  • 319 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 44 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 2 items
  • 7 items
  • 121 items Explore
  • 119 items
  • 1 items
  • 1,020 items Explore
  • 803 items
  • 95 items
  • 27 items
  • 108 items
  • 36,585 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,863 items Explore
  • 1,533 items Explore
  • 403 items
  • 158 items Explore
  • 11,001 items Explore
  • 9,686 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 38 items
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 7,090 items Explore
  • 7,459 items Explore
  • 4,511 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 1,854 items Explore
  • 1,191 items Explore
  • 22,342 items Explore
  • 3,603 items Explore
  • 17 items
  • 5 items
  • 334 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,373 items Explore
  • 23 items Explore
  • 352 items Explore
  • 796 items Explore
  • 1,090 items Explore
  • 510 items Explore
  • 1,127 items Explore
  • 89 items
  • 125 items Explore
  • 6,950 items Explore
  • 170 items
  • 4 items
  • 310 items
  • 4 items
  • 2 items
  • 63 items
  • 2 items
  • 2,936 items Explore
  • 1,579 items Explore
  • 203 items
  • 91 items
  • 20,245 items Explore
  • 1,166 items Explore
  • 138 items
  • 847 items Explore
  • 32 items
  • 132 items Explore
  • 40 items
  • 20 items
  • 281 items
  • 313 items
  • 682 items Explore
  • 347 items Explore
  • 2,427 items
  • 2,525 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 4,391 items Explore
  • 41,038 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,287 items Explore
  • 275 items Explore
  • 8,559 items Explore
  • 31 items
  • 25 items
  • 304 items Explore
  • 776 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 65 items
  • 161 items
  • 58 items
  • 52 items
  • 22,389 items Explore
  • 917 items
  • 18 items
  • 22,557 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,337 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1,028 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 759 items
  • 499 items
  • 3,304 items Explore
  • 175 items
  • 59 items
  • 455 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 21 items
  • 90 items Explore
  • 76 items
  • 281 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 6 items
  • 128 items
  • 295 items
  • 447 items
  • 286 items
  • 1 items
  • 790 items Explore
  • 271 items Explore
  • 11,288 items Explore
  • 760 items Explore
  • 6,046 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 8,000 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1 items
  • 5,869 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 3,722 items Explore
  • 9,190 items Explore
  • 7,751 items Explore
  • 185 items
  • 19 items
  • 142 items
  • 7 items
  • 853 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 2,329 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,095 items Explore
  • 269 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,540 items Explore
  • 695 items Explore
  • 18 items
  • 134 items
  • 6,715 items Explore
  • 93 items
  • 18,701 items Explore
  • 3,140 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 7 items
  • 10,981 items Explore
  • 37 items
  • 4 items
  • 2 items
  • 21,526 items Explore
  • 38 items
  • 13,198 items Explore
  • 3,457 items Explore
  • 5,604 items Explore
  • 33 items
  • 45,984 items Explore
  • 641 items Explore
  • 415 items
  • 25,994 items Explore
  • 217 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 35 items
  • 27 items
  • 356 items Explore
  • 636 items
  • 217 items Explore
  • 13 items
  • 12,670 items Explore
  • 1,350 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 10,260 items
  • 9 items
  • 10 items
  • 14 items
  • 25 items
  • 1 items
  • 4,533 items Explore
  • 913 items Explore
  • 44 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 319 items
  • 703 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 2,285 items Explore
  • 1,662 items Explore
  • 15 items
  • 1,873 items Explore
  • 150 items
  • 81 items
  • 680 items Explore
  • 3,062 items Explore
  • 43 items
  • 17 items
  • 12 items
  • 10,675 items Explore
  • 23,138 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 41 items
  • 1,372 items
  • 180 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 92 items
  • 13,437 items Explore
  • 3,571 items Explore
  • 2,896 items Explore
  • 4,782 items Explore
  • 22 items
  • 42 items
  • 6,898 items Explore
  • 4,782 items Explore
  • 256 items Explore
  • 2,300 items Explore
  • 2,976 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 1,902 items Explore
  • 193 items
  • 223 items Explore
  • 466 items Explore
  • 6,116 items Explore
  • 8,738 items Explore
  • 1,861 items Explore
  • 523 items
  • 5,800 items Explore
  • 3,339 items Explore
  • 11,064 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 86 items
  • 11 items
  • 1,793 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 24 items
  • 51 items
  • 6 items
  • 1 items
  • 4,133 items Explore
  • 611 items Explore
  • 72 items
  • 17 items
  • 153 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 87 items Explore
  • 460 items
  • 7 items
  • 996 items Explore
  • 3,610 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 5 items
  • 9,478 items Explore
  • 48 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 7 items
  • 42 items
  • 3 items
  • 13,745 items Explore
  • 1,164 items Explore
  • 92 items
  • 10,562 items Explore
  • 1,920 items
  • 24 items
  • 7,832 items Explore
  • 21 items
  • 12,945 items Explore
  • 1,417 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 9,677 items Explore
  • 15,114 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,667 items Explore
  • 181 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 5,684 items Explore
  • 12,134 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 25 items
  • 2 items
  • 3 items
  • 7,246 items Explore
  • 374 items Explore
  • 13 items
  • 4 items
  • 6 items
  • 103 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 5 items
  • 491 items
  • 664 items Explore
  • 8,371 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 7,344 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 26 items
  • 4,479 items Explore
  • 420 items
  • 6 items
  • 205 items Explore
  • 12,701 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 20 items
  • 7 items
  • 4 items
  • 325 items Explore
  • 434 items
  • 534 items
  • 3,703 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1,232 items Explore
  • 2,501 items Explore
  • 734 items Explore
  • 36 items
  • 1,139 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 24 items
  • 226 items Explore
  • 78,538 items Explore
  • 3,065 items Explore
  • 2,843 items Explore
  • 63 items
  • 5,089 items Explore
  • 1,831 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 17,442 items Explore
  • 4,997 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 7 items
  • 632 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 1 items
  • 31 items
  • 1 items
  • 76 items
  • 29 items
  • 86 items
  • 3 items
  • 1,177 items Explore
  • 109 items
  • 805 items
  • 12,196 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 13 items
  • 1,560 items Explore
  • 214 items
  • 17,028 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 17 items
  • 1 items
  • 8 items
  • 324 items
  • 2 items
  • 627 items Explore
  • 1,584 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 1,041 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 261 items

Select a time period

Or choose a specific year

Clear all filters

Love among the Ruins

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (Birmingham 1833 - London 1898)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1894 (signed and dated)

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

953 x 1600 mm

Place of origin

England

Order this image

Collection

Wightwick Manor, West Midlands

NT 1288953

Caption

Seated among the decaying ruins of a building overgrown with roses are two lovers. The man comforts a woman dressed in a deep shade of blue. The mood is melancholy, almost sombre, and the lovers embrace as if retreating from the world, their love a potent force in an otherwise crumbling civilisation. This is the most important late painting by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833–98) and is based on a watercolour he produced about 20 years previously. The subject was inspired by ‘Love Among the Ruins’, a poem by Robert Browning (1812 –89). Published in 1855, the poem features two lovers in a ruined city, which allowed the painter to acknowledge the Renaissance artists who had influenced him. The original composition was painted shortly after the end of Burne-Jones’s passionate affair with the Greek artist and sculptor Marie Zambaco (1843–1914), who had become his muse.

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Love Among the Ruins by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (Birmingham 1833 - London 1898), signed and dated, bottom right: EBJ 1894. Two lovers, the man in a rich navy velvet robe, the woman in indigo, embrace while seated together on a stone capital within the ruins of a Renaissance building. At their feet is a section of broken fluted column, overgrown with briar rose. A doorway leading into the building can be seen at left. The architrave is carved in rich relief, the lintel frieze with frolicking putti, the pilaster with rosettes. An interior façade with doors and windows, can be seen through the doorway. Verso with two manuscript notes written by Burne-Jones: 'CAUTION This oil picture was finished in the months of August 1893 to April 1894, it will not be safe to varnish it until FIVE YEARS have passed from this date. It may then be varnished with MASTIC./ Edward Burne Jones.' 'This oil painting of 'Love Among the Ruins' is the same design as the one of the same name which I painted in watercolours, twenty one years ago, but which was destroyed in August last year./ The present picture I began at once, and have made it as like as possible to the other, and have finished it this day. APRIL 23. 1894. Edward Burne Jones.'

Full description

This painting, one of Burne-Jones's major late works, is a replica in oils of the original gouache (watercolour and bodycolour) version of 1870-73, which was his first work exhibited abroad and among his most admired pictures. The composition was also used in a miniature forming part of William Morris's illuminated manuscript of Edward Fitzgerald's translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. In August 1893 the large gouache (private collection) was sent to Paris for exhibition at the Societé National des Beaux Arts. It was severely damaged while at a photographer's studio (Goupil) for reproduction in photogravure: the highlights were treated with egg white, and the paint came away. It was a severe blow to Burne-Jones, who, at the time, was already unsettled and unhappy. The picture had considerable emotional charge for him: it was completed after the breakup of a tempestuous relationship with the great Greek beauty Maria Zambaco (London 1843 - Paris 1914), who the female model may represent. He wrote to his wife Georgiana, ‘It is quite irreparable, but it is life, and all in the bargain - I don't know who made the bargain.’ (Fitzgerald 1975, p. 250) The original was not in fact destroyed; it was subsequently restored by the artist himself. A friend of Burne-Jones, Stopford Brooke, said of this later version, ‘It's better painted, but the ineffable spirit of youth which was in the other, is not there.’ Burne-Jones agreed, ‘O that is true and it will not come back again’. The professional models in both the gouache and subsequent oil – the present picture – have been variously identified as Zambaco, the Italian Antonia Caiva (Christie’s, 11 July 2013, lot 3), and, perhaps most persuasively, Bessie Keene (b. 1866/69), who also posed for Burne Jones’ The Golden Stairs (Tate N04005) and Vespertina Quies (Tate N05176). The male models, either Gaetano Meo (Naples 1849 - London 1925) or Alessandro di Marco, were equally sought after among Victorian artists: the former can be seen in several works by Burne Jones, Simeon Solomon, and William Blake Richmond. 'Love Among the Ruins' shows how far Burne-Jones had moved away from his Pre-Raphaelite origins. Following visits to Italy in 1871 and 1873, his work became increasingly influenced by the Italian High Renaissance artists the Pre-Raphaelites had despised, particularly Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, Raphael and Mantegna. This is clearly reflected in the drapery and pose of the figures, and the Renaissance classicism of the architectural setting. The distant perspective view through a doorway contrasts with the tightly enclosed shallow space characteristic of many of Burne-Jones' pictures. The classicism, subtle colouring, and dream-like poetic quality are far away from the bright colours, medievalism and intense realism of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Although the title is shared with Browning's poem Love Among the Ruins (1855), the picture is not an illustration of it. The subject reflects the increasing importance in the artist's work, just as in the Renaissance, of classical, pagan themes. It comes from the Hypnerotomachia Polyphilii written by Fra Colonna in the 15th century. The book takes the form of a medieval romance full of adventures and allegories but with classical setting, details and language. In a dream Poliphilus sets out on a quest for his lost love, Polia, and at last finds her. The lovers are joined at the altar of Venus and a miraculous briar rose begins to grow. For ultimate happiness they must travel to the Isle of Cythera where they wander through ruins and graves of those who have died for love. But it is all a deception: the dreamer awakens to disappointment. The picture's theme is thus the ephemerality of love and youth, showing the lovers among the ruins of Cythera with the briar rose around them. Its melancholy beauty epitomises Burne-Jones' work: he said that a picture was ‘a beautiful dream of something that never was and never could be’. It has an obvious similarity with the 'Briar Rose' series of paintings of the Sleeping Beauty legend (1873 and 1890) which are at Buscot Park, Oxfordshire. (adapted from author's unpublished property catalogue, Stephen Ponder, Wightwick Manor, circa 1995)

Provenance

Mrs Robert Henry Benson (by 1898); George McCulloch, his sale, Christie’s, 23, 29-30 May 1913, lot 118, reproduced; bought by Charles Davis for Sir Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted (1853-1927) (cf. the 19th-century British paintings given by him to the Guildhall Art Gallery); Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted (1882-1948), by whom presented to the National Trust with Upton and its contents in 1948; immediately moved to Wightwick Manor.

Credit line

Wightwick Manor, The Bearsted Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

Verso: 'CAUTION This oil picture was finished in the months of August 1893 to April 1894, it will not be safe to varnish it until FIVE YEARS have passed from this date. It may then be varnished with MASTIC./ Edward Burne Jones.' Verso: Hand-written note by Burne-Jones on the back of the picture: 'This oil painting of 'Love Among the Ruins' is the same design as the one of the same name which I painted in watercolours, twenty one years ago, but which was destroyed in August last year./ The present picture I began at once, and have made it as like as possible to the other, and have finished it this day. APRIL 23. 1894.Edward Burne Jones'.

Makers and roles

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (Birmingham 1833 - London 1898) , artist

Exhibition history

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde, Tate Britain, London, 2012 - 2013 The Age of Rossetti, Burne-Jones & Watts Symbolism in Britain 1860-1910, Tate Britain, London, 1997 - 1998, no.41 The Treasure Houses of Britain, National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA, 1985 - 1986, no.551

References

Bell 1892 & 1898 Malcolm Bell, Edward Burne-Jones: A Record and Review, 1892, 4th ed., 1898, pp.50, 90, 92 Burne-Jones, 1904: Lady Georgiana Burne-Jones, Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, 2 vols., 1904, II, pp.237-8, 243, 341 de Lisle 1904 Fortunée de Lisle, Burne-Jones, 1904, pp. 95-7, 147, 182, 186 Harrison and Waters, 1973: Martin Harrison and Bill Waters, Burne-Jones, 1973, pp. 173, 180, 185 Fitzgerald 1975 Penelope Fitzgerald, Edward Burne-Jones, 1975, pp 141-2, 151, 249 Garland 1984 Madge Garland, Country Life, 8 March 1984, pp.604-605 Hartnoll 1988 The Reproductive Engravings after Edward Coley Burne-Jones, ed. Julian Hartnoll, 1988, pp. 48-9 Wood 1991: Christopher Wood, Burne-Jones: the life and works of Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898), London 1991 The Age of Rossetti, Burne-Jones and Watts Symbolism in Britain 1860-1910, exh. cat. Tate Gallery, London 16 October 1997 - 4 January 1998, Haus der Kunst, Munich 30 Januray - 26 April 1998 & Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 15 May - 30 August 1998 Wildman and Christian 1998: Stephen Wildman and John Christian, Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer, exh.cat. Metropolitan Museum, New York, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, and Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 1998-9, pp. 27, 32, 38 (note 11), 114, 163, 201. Barringer, Rosenfeld, Smith 2012: Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde, exh.cat. Tate Britain, London, National Gallery Washington, Pushkin Museum, Moscow, 2012-2013 MacCarthy, 2011 Fiona MacCarthy, The Last Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination, faber and faber, London 2011, pp. 243, 245, 416-8, 493.

View more details

Related articles