Edward Burne-Jones, Love and the Pilgrim

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
Love and the Pilgrim
Medium and support
Pencil on paper
Overall height: 91.2 cm, Overall width: 180.5 cm
Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)
Catalogue Number
  • Inscribed on cartouche in lower right: ‘To FG’


Vast in scale, this is a pencil study for Love and the Pilgrim of 1896–7 (Tate, London, N05381). The subject was inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s allegorical poem The Romaunt of the Rose which Burne-Jones had read while a student at Oxford and which influenced many of the works he produced in collaboration with William Morris (1834–1896). Burne-Jones presented this pencil study to Frances Graham (1854–1940) as a Valentine’s Day present in 1883. Frances’s friend Mary Gladstone recorded the gift in a letter: ‘Valentine’s Day – a big picture of Cupid dragging a maiden through all the meshes of love’.1 Frances provided a platonic focus for many of Burne-Jones’s later romantic yearnings, and reciprocated with an appreciation of his art and his benevolent humour. The gift is recorded on the drawing by a cartouche at the bottom right containing  Frances’s initials symbolically pierced by one of Cupid’s arrows. Burne-Jones began work on the large oil painting in 1877 though it would not be completed for another twenty years. In the final painting, the God of Love holds an arrow instead of a bow from the original drawing. Burne-Jones also made several substantial changes to the setting, replacing craggy mountains and broken rocks with bucolic, rolling hills and grassland.

by Devon Cox


Burne-Jones: The Paintings, Graphic and Decorative Work of Sir Edward Burne-Jones 1833–98, London : Arts Council of Great Britain, 1975, cat. no. 187, p. 66

Edward Burne-Jones, ed. Alison Smith, exh. cat., London : Tate Publishing, 2018, p. 210, fig. 40


  1. Mary Gladstone, 14 February 1875, quoted in Jane Abdy and Charlotte Gere, The Souls, London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1984, p. 131.


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