Edward Burne-Jones tapestries are often viewed in the context of the collaborations he enjoyed with William Morris. They have so many connections in tapestries and in art generally. Their friendship, co-operative work and shared understandings about art resulted in some marvellous tapestries.
Edward Burne Jones (no hyphen until 1894) was born in 1833, and attended Oxford University where he became known as Ned Jones by his friends after Dante Gabriel Rossetti altered his name. He married Georgiana Macdonald in 1860. Both this marriage and that of William and Janey Morris were troubled, and Georgie and Morris became close confidantes. Sir Edward Burne-Jones became a baronet in 1894, to his embarrassment and the disgust of socialists Georgiana and Morris. He died in 1898, two years after Morris.
Rossetti was a strong initial influence until Ned found his own artistic style. This remained true to the Pre-Raphaelite movement, later veering towards the Aesthetic Movement. He was also clearly identified with the Arts and Crafts Movement too.
His “Last Judgement” stained glass window in Birmingham Cathedral, produced by Morris & Co, is considered his greatest masterpiece by some, with its dramatic flowing lines full of life. It’s dreaminess was to become a hallmark of Burne-Jones art which extended beyond his oil and watercolour paintings, stained glass, illustrations and even stage sets to tapestries, to our good fortune.
Edward Burne-Jones tapestries
Edward Burne-Jones was particularly interested in exploring imagery of the Holy Grail in his paintings and tapestries. Today, several of this series woven by Morris & Co in the 1890’s are available, finely woven in France. He described tapestries as “half way between painting and ornament. I know nothing that’s so deliciously half way”. His skill creating romanticised flowing figures balanced well with William Morris’s ability to create fine backgrounds.
Their collaboration produced tapestry art such as Pomona and Flora, with Burne-Jones designing the figures and Morris the detailed backgrounds. We also have a version of an 1878 watercolour, “An Angel Playing a Flageolet”, now woven in France as one of the most popular Edward Burne-Jones tapestries, especially in the Christmas holiday season.
A selection of his tapestries are available today, woven in France. Most are in more than one size and all are lined, with a rod pocket for easy wall-hanging.