miércoles, 5 de septiembre de 2018


Christa Zaat

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Edward Burne-Jones (English Pre-Raphaelite painter and designer) 1833 - 1898
The Heart of the Rose, 1889
charcoal and coulored chalks
96.5 x 131 cm.
William Morris Gallery, London, United Kingdom

The Heart of the Rose

The ending of the tale ye see;
The Lover draws anigh the tree,
And takes the branch, and takes the rose,
That love and he so dearly chose.

Verse written by William Morris

The Heart of the Rose, one of the most important works by Burne-Jones remaining in private hands, and its companion, The Pilgrim at the Gate of Idleness (Dallas Museum of Art), together with the larger painting, Love Leading the Pilgrim (Tate Gallery), form a trilogy on a romantic theme loosely based on parts of Chaucer's poem Romaunt of the Rose. Around 1872 Burne-Jones and William Morris collaborated on designs for a wall-hanging inspired by the poem, with Burne-Jones supplying the figures and Morris the briar background. The narrative sequence, consisting of many scenes, was embroidered by the wife and daughter of Sir Lowthian Bell, Bt. (see 13). Both the present painting, dated 1889, and its companion, dated 1884, are based on the artist’s original designs for the wall-hangings. The William Morris Museum’s collection also includes a chalk drawing of The Heart of the Rose, which is almost identical in size and composition to the painting.

The theme of the Romaunt of the Rose occupied Burne-Jones intermittently for over twenty years. It is documented first in 1860 when, in the diaries of the artist George Price Boyce, it is recorded that he took the diarist to the British Museum to admire a fifteenth century manuscript of Roman de la Rose. Chaucer’s translation of the story, however, is the source of the Rounton Grange embroidery panels.

The present painting was begun in 1889 and created as a pendant to the earlier Pilgrim at the Gate of Idleness. Both paintings remained in the studio and were taken up again by the artist in 1892, following a period of illness, and completed in time for the New Gallery exhibition in 1893. Love Leading the Pilgrim, the largest of the group, was begun in 1877 and finally completed in 1897, the date of its exhibition at the New Gallery.

The three paintings are conceived as a sequence. The first is The Pilgrim at the Gate of Idleness in which the Pilgrim meets Idleness personified as a beguiling maid. Having escaped the temptation, the Pilgrim is led by Love through the briar thicket, which is depicted in the Tate Gallery painting. The finale is represented in the present painting, The Heart of the Rose, where a winged figure, perhaps Love, leads the Pilgrim to the Rose, personified as a beautiful woman within a rose bush.

A large drawing with a composition related to the present painting and also entitled The Heart of the Rose is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A solitary figure on the left, similar to the Pilgrim, touches the edge of a gigantic rose, at the centre of which is a woman's face in profile. The drawing appears to be a tapestry design for William Morris’s craft works at Merton Abbey. Two versions of the tapestry were made about 1901; one in a private collection was exhibited in the Burne-Jones exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London, 1975-6, number 231, and the other, sold at Sotheby’s, London, 7 June 1972, is now in the Museum at Karlsruhe. Further versions of these subjects were drawn by Burne-Jones for the illustrations in the Kelmscott Press edition of Chaucer’s works (1896).

William Connal was the first owner of the two paintings, The Pilgrim at the Gate of Idleness and The Heart of the Rose, and probably acquired them from the artist. Connal’s sale at Christie’s, in 1908, occasioned by his move from London to Glasgow, shows him to have been a serious patron of the Pre-Raphaelites. In addition to the nine works by Burne-Jones, he sold many other Pre-Raphaelite paintings, notably The Pretty Baa-Lambs by Ford Madox Brown (Birmingham City Art Gallery).

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