A reclining male nude: A Study for ‘The Council Chamber’ from ‘The Legend of the Briar Rose’

by Edward Burne-Jones


MEDIUM: Black chalk
DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 8 x 13.2 inches (20.3 x 33.5 cm)
(framed) 13.8 x 19.1 inches (35.1 x 48.5 cm)
SIGNATURE: Inscribed (verso)


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    Catalogue No: 6532 Categories: , Tags: , , , , , , ,

    This drawing is a study for one of the courtiers in ‘The Council Chamber’, the second of a four-part series that Burne-Jones worked on from 1885 to 1890, titled ‘The Legend of the Briar Rose’ (Buscot Park, Oxfordshire). While his fellows sleep around him, this member of the council reads at the feet of his King. This Council Chamber panel has an inscription below which reads: ‘The threat of war, the hope of peace / The Kingdoms peril and increase / Sleep on, and bide the latter day / When Fate shall take her chain away.’

    This study likely dates from 1888 when, according to his work record, he ‘redrew and designed the sleeping King, the second of the Briar Rose pictures’, developing the subject from the scene in the so-called ‘small’ Briar Rose series (Ponce, Puerto Rico), painted 1871-3. The drawing’s style confirms this dating.

    H. S. Reitlinger (his collector’s mark); Sotheby’s, 26 May 1954, lot 433
    With Alistair Mathews
    Douglas Hamer, 1956

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    Edward Burne-Jones was born on 28th August 1833, Birmingham UK. He studied at the Birmingham School of Art before pursuing a theology degree at Exeter College in Oxford. Burne-Jones was a key figure in the pre-raphaelite movement, rejecting the classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular, believing it to be a corrupting influence on the academic teachings of art. Instead, he favoured abundant, intense colours, religious, mythological and medieval themes in style based in High Renaissance painting.

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