Victorian Art & Design
Burne-Jones Introduction

Sir Edward Burne-Jones was born in Birmingham as Edward Jones in1835. At Exeter College, Oxford, in 1853, he met another Theology student, William Morris. Burne-Jones and Morris both shared a love of the Middle Ages and they became lifelong friends. In the writings of the art critic, John Ruskin, they read about the Pre-Raphaelites. They especially admired two works by Rossetti, his book illustration, The Maids of Elfenmere and his watercolour, Dante drawing the head of an angel.

In 1855 Burne-Jones and Morris visited medieval cathedrals in France. They decided to become artists. Burne-Jones went to London to meet Rossetti. He encouraged Burne-Jones to leave Oxford without taking his final exams and lent him his drawings to study.

In 1857 Rossetti asked Burne-Jones and Morris and others to help him do paintings on the walls of the Oxford Union Society. In 1858 the great artist, G. F. Watts gave Burne-Jones some lessons in drawing. From 1858 until 1861 Burne-Jones did a number of pen and ink drawings, mainly of medieval subjects, like The Knight's Farewell. He also drew caricatures, like this sketch 'Mr. Morris reading poems to Mr Burne-Jones'.  (For more details of his drawings read Ann Dean's booklet Burne-Jones Drawings. Click on Books link below. )

Burne-Jones's wife says that she had to prick herself with a pin to keep awake while Morris read out his poems. He would read them in a sing song voice for four hours at a time!
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