Edward Burne-Jones, Agnes Graham (1861–1937)

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
Agnes Graham (1861–1937)
Signed lower left ‘EBJ’ and dated ‘1877’
Medium and support
Pencil on paper
Overall height: 26 cm, Overall width: 21 cm
Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)
Catalogue Number


It is suggested here that the present drawing is probably of Agnes Graham (1861–1937), the youngest of six daughters of William Graham (1817–1885) and Jane Catherine Lowndes (1820–1899), who turned sixteen in the year the present portrait was made. The drawing is signed in the lower left corner with Edward Burne-Jones’s initials and dated 1877, and if it is of Agnes (rather than her elder sister Frances), she would have been sixteen at the time. It may have been among the ‘numerous pencil studies’ of Agnes and her sister Frances (MM68) which are listed in Burne-Jones’s work record.1 Like MM68, this drawing is likely to be among the series of studies the artist made for the female figures in The Golden Stairs (Tate, London, N04005), which he completed in 1880.

In 1881, Agnes (known as Aggie) married Herbert Jekyll (later Sir Herbert Jekyll, KCMG), a soldier, public servant and wood-carver. Lady Jekyll, artist, writer and philanthropist, was regarded as a ‘domestic goddess’, reflected in her popular ‘Kitchen Essays’ which were published in The Times after the First World War. These were later collected and published in 1922 as Kitchen Essays, with Recipes and their Occasions.2 In 1918, Agnes was rewarded with a DBE in the New Year Honours List for her war work with the Order of St John running a medical supplies warehouse in Clerkenwell and as a volunteer in the ambulance service.

An obituary in The Times (29 January 1937) noted that ‘Both in her public work for those of her own sex who were in trouble and in her private relations Lady Jekyll was the kindest of women, and possessed in a remarkable degree the love and gratitude of people of all walks of life.’ Her goddaughter Mary Lutyens wrote of visiting the Jekylls and in her biography of her father, recalled Lady Jekyll in later life as ‘a very cultivated woman, widely read: she had travelled much with her father and had a host of friends and a house in London as well as Munstead’. She was also, Mary remembered, ‘very plump, with beautifully dressed white hair and a soft pink face’.3

by Devon Cox


  1. Oliver Garnett, ‘The Letters and Collection of William Graham: Pre-Raphaelite Patron and Pre-Raphaelite Collector’, The Walpole Society, vol. 62, 2000, p. 169.

  2. Lady Jekyll, DBE, Kitchen Essays with Recipes and their Occasions, London: Thomas Nelson, 1922.

  3. Mary Lutyens, Edwin Lutyens by his Daughter, London: John Murray, 1980, pp. 24–5.


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