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Watercolour - Dorigen of Bretagne longing for the safe return of her husband
  • Dorigen of Bretagne longing for the safe return of her husband
    Burne-Jones, Edward Coley
  • Enlarge image

Dorigen of Bretagne longing for the safe return of her husband

  • Object:

    Watercolour

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1871 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Burne-Jones, Edward Coley (Sir), born 1833 - died 1898 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bodycolour

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides

  • Museum number:

    CAI.10

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This subject is derived from Geoffrey Chaucer's 'Franklin's Tale' from The Canterbury Tales. It demonstrates Burne-Jones's interest in medieval subjects. Dorigen is shown longing for her husband's return but fearful that he will be wrecked at the harbour's mouth. The reunion that she so desires is alluded to in the ghostly figures that decorate her portable organ. Since it can be played only when the bellows are pumped by someone else, this emphasises her loneliness. Her pose with arms outstretched, opening the shutters onto the view of the sea churning around the rocks, suggests also her sense of hopelessness.

Physical description

A women seen mainly from the back but head in right profile and arms outstretched looks out to a sea full of rocks. To her left is a seat and a convex mirror. To her right and on the ground, a stack of books and a portable organ.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1871 (painted)

Artist/maker

Burne-Jones, Edward Coley (Sir), born 1833 - died 1898 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Bodycolour

Dimensions

Height: 52.2 cm framed, Width: 63 cm framed, Height: 26.7 cm, Width: 37.4 cm

Object history note

Purchased, possibly directly from the artist, by Constantine Alexander Ionides before November 1881, for £200 (his inventory, private collection). Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides, 1900.

Descriptive line

Watercolour (bodycolour) of Dorigen of Bretagne longing for the safe return of her husband by Edward Burne-Jones, 1871.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Fagence Cooper, Suzanne, Pre Raphaelite Art in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, V&A Publications, 2003. 176p., ill. ISBN I 85177 393 2
Evans, Mark et al. Vikutoria & Arubāto Bijutsukan-zō : eikoku romanshugi kaigaten = The Romantic tradition in British painting, 1800-1950 : masterpieces from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Japan : Brain Trust, 2002
p.101, pl.91
Coombs, Katherine British watercolours : 1750-1950 . London: V&A Publications, 2012

Labels and date

Burne-Jones and his Pre-Raphaelite associates were fascinated by medieval literature. This illustration to Chaucer's Franklin's Tale shows Dorigen of Bretagne watching for the return of her husband's boat across the treacherous sea. Chaucer describes how Dorigen falls to her knees because she is trembling with fear; Burne-Jones uses this posture to emphasise her watchfulness in an unusually elongated composition. [March 2008]

Subjects depicted

Books; Musical Instruments; Interiors

Categories

Paintings; Interiors

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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