Victorian Art & Design
Paintings by Burne-Jones

 Burne-Jones's first  paintings were gouaches (opaque watercolours). In 1864 he was elected as a member of the Old or Royal Water Colour Society, or OWCS. This meant that he could show his paintings at their annual exhibitions. As a result he obtained two wealthy patrons who both competed to buy his paintings. They were William Graham and Frederick Leyland. In 1870 Burne-Jones resigned from the OWCS. This was because they asked him to remove a painting from their Exhibition. It was his Phyllis and Demophoon, now in the Birmingham City Art Gallery. It was said that a great lady had been shocked by the nudity of the figures.

In 1877 a new art gallery opened. It was called the Grosvenor Gallery. Thousands of people flocked to it. They were particularly interested in the paintings of Burne-Jones, especially his The Beguiling of Merlin and his six Angels of Creation. Burne-Jones's wife, Georgie, said in her Memoirs that this Exhibition made her husband 'widely known and his name famous'.  Burne-Jones exhibited every year at the Grosvenor until 1887. In 1884 he exhibited his King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid there and in 1886 The Golden Stairs.
King Cophetua is shown on the left. It is based on a poem by Tennyson. This retells the legend of a king who fell in love with a beggar maid. Burne Jones based the background on a Renaissance Annunciation by Crivelli in the National Gallery.

In 1890 the art dealers, Agnews, exhibited four huge paintings by Burne-Jones, The Legend of the Briar Rose.  They caused a sensation. They show the legend of the Sleeping Beauty. (They are described in Ann S. Dean's Burne-Jones and William Morris.
In 1888 Burne-Jones started exhibiting at the New Gallery instead of the Grosvenor. In 1891 he exhibited his huge watercolour, The Star of Bethlehem there. It was painted for the Birmingham Corporation. It was based on his tapestry design, The Adoration of the Kings. Today Burne-Jones's paintings can be seen in a number of Art Galleries, especially Birmingham, London's Tate Britain, Liverpool and Port Sunlight, near Liverpool.
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