Artist: Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones
Medium: Pen and ink and grey wash, with scratching out.
Size: 45.8 x 60.5 cm
Location: Private collection.
19 IMAGES FROM THE 19th CENTURY: PART 9
Matthew 25:1-13 “... the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ They replied, ‘No, there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Burne-Jones's early pen-and-ink drawings are among his rarest and most fascinating productions. Only some ten finished examples were executed. The Wise and Foolish Virgins, both large in scale and on paper, are qualities consistent with a more expansive, confident approach and a new interest in dramatic intensity and atmospheric effect. The influence of his mentor Rossetti is still quite evident, but by this time Burne-Jones has begun to find his own artistic voice. In fact the drawing has a good claim to be the masterpiece among his early works in this medium.
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet (August 1833 – June 1898) was an English artist and designer closely associated with the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who worked closely with William Morris on a wide range of decorative arts as a founding partner in Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, and Company. Burne-Jones had intended to become a church minister, but under the influence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, co-founder the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, he decided to leave college to pursue a career in art. In February 1857, Rossetti wrote “Jones's designs are marvels of finish and imaginative detail, unequaled by anything unless perhaps Albert Dürer's finest works.” Burne-Jones was closely involved in the rejuvenation of the tradition of stained glass art in England.