Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ned!


Edward Burne-Jones, or Ned as he was known by his friends, is my favorite Pre-Raphaelite. Not only do I appreciate the dreamlike quality to his artwork, but I am also (and frankly even more so than his art itself) fascinated by the man. He seemed so enigmatic and mysterious, soft spoken and shy, and yet he had such a deep and fantastical inner landscape upon which he drew for his ethereal canvases.

I'll admit to a bit of a bias about Ned's life. My fascination with his character helps me excuse some faults that should perhaps not be excused; namely his affair with Maria Zambaco, and his chivalric love-filled letters to various young stunners during his older years. I explained the adoration he felt toward these women in the context of his love of Arthurian knights and romance. His feelings toward them were simple chivalry, I told myself. The truth of the matter is probably a bit of my belief and a bit more complex. It is hard to deny, for instance, the inherent sexuality of this sketch Ned drew for one of his adored young ladies. It shows her luxuriating in a bathtub:


Less risque but also intimate are these sketches of the same stunner relaxing in bed doing embroidery.


And then there is this astonishing sketch Ned did of himself and best friend William Morris in a steam bath, shared by the wonderful Pre-Raphaelite Passions on Facebook. I had no idea Ned had ever done a naked sketch of himself!!!

There is a new biography that has been the talk of the Pre-Raphaelite-obsessed community. Fiona MacCarthy has written what appears to be a very well researched biography of Edward Burne-Jones. We are all dying to read the new book, which is set to be released on September 1st in England (sadly, no release date known yet for the U.S.). From a few articles I've read in which MacCarthy talks about Ned, it sounds like she will not shy away from discussion of his intriguing and enigmatic sexual and romantic escapades.


Edward Burne-Jones...a fascinating man, whose life I think I could study for the rest of mine and still not tire of it. Today is his 178th birthday. Today we celebrate the man of such imagination, dream, talent, and desire.

A sketch of young Ned done by Rossetti. Also shared by Pre-Raphaelite Passions.

13 comments:

Raine Szramski said...

I can't wait for a U.s. release Of "The Last Pre-Raphaelite" so I pre-ordered it on Amazon UK. Yes I will willingly pay more for this edition and the shipping because Ned is so worth it.

Excellent post, Grace! I agree with you about his "courtly love" interest in young women late in life. I think it fired up the passion in his art to be in love all the time...or at least to have crushes like a schoolboy... Curious to read what Fiona MacCarthy has uncovered since Penelope Fitzgerald's biography years ago, which had until now had been the most comprehensive.

Justin Gedak said...

I love this artist. One of my faves as well.

Hermes said...

The Sunday Times (behind a pay wall) did a long review yesterday of the book. Fiona obviously loves Ned but some of it is rather shocking to be honest and like you I was a great admirer.

Grace said...

Raine, if it is as good as I've heard, I might not be able to wait either!!!

Justin, :)

Hermes, WAS a favorite? Or still is? If not anymore, what changed your mind?

Raine Szramski said...

Uh oh, Ned, what did you do THIS time?? ;)

Hermes said...

Best you read the book, as will I, as reviews can be sensational. Fiona obviously loves BJ but doesn't leave out his short comings like his treatment of his wife and some very odd attitudes towards young girls. I hope this is all taken out of context! Wish I could access the review.

Grace said...

Oh no...don't tell me she makes him out to be another Ruskin.

I may not buy the book at all if that's the case. >:(

Raine Szramski said...

I will read the book when it arrives and let you know my thoughts. Though I wish I could take a week off from work to do it...

Horus said...

Just to rea-assure you concerning the content of Fiona McCarthy'e book...
The Last Pre-Raphaelite, her study of Burne-Jones, is unlikely to stir up controversy in the way her books on Gill and Byron did, though it emerges that the artist did have a penchant for young girls, whose hands he would hold; he was distraught when they grew up and got married. But his only real "savage passion" was work – the goal, imbued with great moral seriousness, to advance the cult of beauty.

a qoute from the Gaurdian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/sep/02/fiona-maccarthy-life-writing

Horus said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/sep/02/fiona-maccarthy-life-writing

I have followed your blog for a couple years but have never commented. I thought I might put your mind at rest with this snippet of a review concerning Burne-Jones...

The Last Pre-Raphaelite, her study of Burne-Jones, is unlikely to stir up controversy in the way her books on Gill and Byron did, though it emerges that the artist did have a penchant for young girls, whose hands he would hold; he was distraught when they grew up and got married. But his only real "savage passion" was work – the goal, imbued with great moral seriousness, to advance the cult of beauty.

Grace said...

Hi Horus!

Thanks so much for leaving that very comforting quote! An American friend of mine has received the book and is reading it now...hopefully she will have a good review! :)

Thanks for reading!
Grace

joy said...

Good day! I was so impressed to have seen a great artwork. You've done a great job.Well, thank you for sharing your talent and article it is very well appreciated by me. You can also visit my site if you have time.


n8fan.net

www.n8fan.net

Leslie Lim said...

This is really interesting and knowledgeable. Thanks for sharing. I really appreciate it a lot. Please do more blogs in the future. Thank you and God bless to the blogger!

Rica
www.imarksweb.org