Edward Burne-Jones - Neglect and Rediscovery

Neglect and Rediscovery

On 16 June 1933, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, a nephew of Burne-Jones, officially opened the centenary exhibition featuring Burne-Jones's drawings and paintings at the Tate Gallery in London. In his opening speech at the exhibition, Mr Baldwin expressed what the art of Burne-Jones stood for:

In my view, what he did for us common people was to open, as never had been opened before, magic casements of a land of faery in which he lived throughout his life ... It is in that inner world we can cherish in peace, beauty which he has left us and in which there is peace at least for ourselves. The few of us who knew him and loved him well, always keep him in our hearts, but his work will go on long after we have passed away. It may give its message in one generation to a few or in other to many more, but there it will be for ever for those who seek in their generation, for beauty and for those who can recognise and reverence a great man, and a great artist.

But in fact, long before 1933, Burne-Jones was hopelessly out-of-fashion in the art world, much of which soon preferred the major trends in Modern art, and the exhibit marking the 100th anniversary of his birth was a sad affair, poorly attended. It was not until the mid-1970s that his work began to be re-assessed and once again acclaimed. A major exhibit in 1989 at the Barbican Art Gallery, London (in book form as: John Christian, The Last Romantics, 1989) traced Burne-Jones's influence on the next generation of artists, and another at Tate Britain in 1997 explored the links between British Aestheticism and Symbolism.

A second lavish centenary exhibit—this time marking the 100th anniversary of Burne-Jones's death—was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1998, before traveling to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Fiona MacCarthy in a review of Burne-Jones's legacy notes that he was "a painter who, while quintessentially Victorian, leads us forward to the psychological and sexual introspection of the early twentieth century."

Read more about this topic:  Edward Burne-Jones

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