“THE FORMS DIVINELY BEAUTIFUL”: SPLENDID ORIGINAL COLORED CHALK DRAWING BY LEADING PRE-RAPHAELITE ARTIST EDWARD BURNE-JONES
BURNE-JONES, Edward. Large original study for The Sirens. No place, circa 1870. Colored chalks on brown paper, measuring 14 by 18 inches; handsomely matted and framed, entire piece measures 19 by 25 inches. $16,500.
Splendid original chiaroscuro colored chalk drawing, a large preliminary compositional study for The Sirens, by esteemed pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones.
Burne-Jones, leading painter and designer of Victorian England and among the most important of the Pre-Raphaelite artists, is often known for his collaborations with William Morris, for whom he designed stained glass and tapestries and illustrated some of the Kelmscott Press publications, including the magnificent 1896 Kelmscott Chaucer. However, Burne-Jones' non-collaborative work was equally striking. Of his own haunting work he stated, "I mean by a picture a beautiful romantic dream, of something that never was, never will be—in a light better than any that ever shone—in a land no-one can define or remember, only desire—and the forms divinely beautiful" (Chilvers, 79-80). This beautiful work is a preliminary compositional study for The Sirens, which Burne-Jones began to paint in 1870, but, despite many attempts over two decades, was never able to finish. Accordingly, this work is extremely valuable as one of the only surviving visions for that work. The allegory of shipwreck does, nonetheless, appear in other of his works, including The Voyage to Vineland (stained glass window) and The Holy Grail (tapestry). A pastel [circa 1875] in a Spanish private collection and a watercolor [circa 1875] in the South African National Gallery are both reminiscent of this drawing, but neither is identical. This piece has been exhibited at Mass Gallery (1967); Piccadilly Gallery (1971); Grolier Club (1971). Provenance: Virginia Surtees; Hartnoll and Eure; Kenneth A. Loft; Frederick R. Koch; Sotheby's.
A lovely original work, wonderfully framed.