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Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones’s Hope

Emily B. Collins, MPhil
Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2010;12(1):76-77. doi:10.1001/archfacial.2009.93.
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I mean by a picture a beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be, in a light better than any light that ever shone, in a land no one can define or remember—only desire—and the forms divinely beautiful.” These words were written by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones in a letter to his close friend and frequent correspondent May Gaskell.1(p89)Throughout his long and successful career Burne-Jones sought to create images and objects that fulfilled this objective. Long before he met May Gaskell and became beloved by the “smart set” in London, Burne-Jones, born Edward Coley Burne Jones, had been known as plain Edward Jones, just like his father. He was born in Birmingham, England, on August 28, 1833. His mother's father, Benjamin Coley, was a jewelry maker, a popular profession in Birmingham at the time. His father was also involved in the world of craft and had opened a carving, gilding, and framing business, though without much success.2(p41)Burne-Jones' mother unfortunately died within a week of her son's birth, and his bereft father never remarried. Their home was said to be dull and undecorated, which may have lead the young Burne-Jones to dream of a more exciting existence.2(p42)

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Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898). Hope. Oil on canvas. 70½ × 25 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts. Given in memory of Mrs George Marston Whitin by her 4 daughters, Mrs Laurence Murray Keeler, Mrs Sydney Russell Mason, Mrs Elijah Kent Swift, and Mrs William Carey Crane. 40.778.

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