Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, ARA (1833-1898)

Burne-Jones was a major British artist and designer working in the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite era. He was a pupil of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and was a contemporary of William Morris, with whom he collaborated on a number of projects.

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, ARA (1833-1898), The Madness of Sir Tristram,

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, ARA (1833-1898), The Madness of Sir Tristram


Gouache, water and bodycolour on paper attached to a wooden stretcher
23 x 22 in (59 x 56 cm)
Signed with initials

The subject is taken from the story of Tristram and Iseult, one of the most famous of Arthurian legends so popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. Sir Tristram, driven mad by false rumours of Iseult’s love for another knight, lives like a wild man in the forest, playing his harp and tended by herdsmen and peasants.

In 1862 the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., founded the previous year, was commissioned by the Bradford wool merchant, Walter Dunlop to make a series (thirteen) of stained glass panels illustrating this story for his house, Harden Grange, at Bingley in Yorkshire. The panels (all now in the Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford) were designed by six artists connected with the firm - D.G. Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, Burne-Jones, William Morris, Arthur Hughes and Val Prinsep. Burne-Jones undertook four designs, and later turned two – The Madness of Sir Tristram and The Marriage of Sir Tristram – into easel pictures by painting directly on top of the stained glass cartoons, and one, King Mark and La Belle Iseult into an independent watercolour (Birmingham City Art Gallery).

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