born Aug. 28, 1833, Birmingham,Eng.
died June 17, 1898, London
original name Edward Coley Burne
Jones one of the leading painters and designers of late 19th-century
England, whose romantic paintings using medieval imagery were among
the last manifestations of the Pre-Raphaelite style. More
long-lasting is his influence as a pioneer of the revival of the
ideal of the “artist-craftsman,” so influential to the development
of 20th-century industrial design.
Burne-Jones was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, where he met his
future collaborator, the artist-poet William Morris, then a fellow
divinity student. His meeting with the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti
in 1856 marked a turning point in his career, and he left Oxford
without graduating. Morris and he then settled in London, working
under Rossetti's guidance.
Burne-Jones's vivid imagination delighted in the stories of medieval
chivalry, as is seen in his “King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid”
(1884) and “Merlin and Nimue” (1858–59). Stylistically, such works
owe much to Rossetti's illustrations, but more often his own
dreamworld drew inspiration from themelancholy, attenuated figures
of the 15th-century Italian painters Filippino Lippi and Sandro
Botticelli, suffusing them with a mood of romantic mysticism. His
first big success came with an exhibition in 1877, which included
oils such as “Days of Creation,” “The Beguiling of Merlin”
(1872–77), and “The Mirror of Venus” (1867–77). From that date until
his death, he was increasingly considered to be among the great
painters of England. In 1894 he received a baronetcy.
After his death, Burne-Jones's influence was felt far less in
painting than in the field of decorative design, particularly in
that of ecclesiastical stained glass. He executed reliefs in metals,
tiles, and gesso, decorations for pianos and organs, and cartoons
for tapestries. Among the latter may be noted the “Adoration of the
Magi” (Exeter College Chapel, Oxford). Besides several illustrations
to other books printed by William Morris' prestigious Kelmscott
Press, he made 87 designs for the Kelmscott Chaucer of 1896,
considered to be among the world's finest printed books.