Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)
    London (decorated)

  • Date:

    ca. 1860 (made)
    ca. 1860 (decorated)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    American oak case, painted with shellac varnish

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs J. W. Mackail, daughter of the artist

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition []

This modest instrument was made by Frederick Priestley, an otherwise unknown piano maker, and given as a wedding present to Edward Burne-Jones in 1860. He subsequently decorated it with a scene from the Medieval Romance, the 'Chant d’Amour' and an allegory of death. In her biography, The Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, his wife referred to a picture of Death on the panel below the keyboard, 'standing outside the gate of a garden where a number of girls, unconscious of his approach, are resting and listening to music'.

Place of Origin

London (made)
London (decorated)


ca. 1860 (made)
ca. 1860 (decorated)


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

Materials and Techniques

American oak case, painted with shellac varnish

Marks and inscriptions

F.Priestley, 15, Berners Street, Oxford Street
Makers's mark and retailer's; Gothic; nameboard, above the keys; printed; About 1860

Patent registration for style of applied decoration; Soundboard; stamped; About 1860

Registration number; Soundboard, next to Patent mark.; written; ink; About 1860


Length: 127 cm, Height: 93.5 cm, Depth: 47 cm, Height: 51.4 cm Front panel (W.43:6-1926), Width: 125 cm Front panel (W.43:6-1926), Depth: 1.8 cm Front panel (W.43:6-1926), Height: 16.1 cm Front panel (W.43:7-1926), Width: 115 cm Front panel (W.43:7-1926)

Object history note

The painted panel below the keyboard (W.43:6-1926) was exhibited: Edward Burne-Jones: Pre-Raphaelite Visionary, Tate Britain, London, 24 October 2018 - 24 February 2019.

Descriptive line

English piano, ca. 1860, manufactured by F. Priestley, painted by Edward Burne-Jones

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

Angela Thirkell, Three Houses. London, Allison & Busby, 2012 (first published 1931). pp. 153-4

Labels and date

UPRIGHT PIANO, English, about 1860. Inscribed on the nameboard, F.Priestly, 15 Berners Street, Oxford Street; painted by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, with scenes from the "Chant d'Amour" inside the keyboard and Death and the Maidens on the lower half of the instrument. The instrument has a compass of eighty-two notes, CC - a4, with keys covered in ivory and the sharps in ebony. The body is of lacquered American walnut.

Museum No.: W.43-1926
Keyboard Catalogue No.: 51

Edward and Georgina Burne-Jones were given the instrument by his aunt in 1860, and its simple design enabled the artist to paint the surface with the themes mentioned above. In her biography The Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, Lady Burne-Jones wrote "On the panel beneath the keyboard there is a gilded and lacquered picture of Death, veiled and crowned, standing outside the gate of a garden where a number of girls, unconscious of his approach are resting and listening to music".

Presented by Mrs J.W.Mackail. [pre September 2000]

Production Note

Attribution note: The piano has a serial number, which implies the case form was made on a large scale. However, the decoration by Burne-Jones makes it unique.
Reason For Production: Private


American Walnut; Shellac; Paint


Joining; Painting; Varnishing


Musical instruments

Production Type



Furniture and Woodwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.