"Hope" Springs Eternal


Sepia Print of Edward Burne-Jones's Pre-Raphaelite "Hope" Painting, 1896 (LEO Design)


Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898) was an English Pre-Raphaelite painter and designer who co-founded the William Morris design firm in 1861.  Though he is best known for his lush and romantic paintings, he excelled at stained glass design and is partly responsible for the renaissance of the medium in Nineteenth Century England.  Examples of his stained glass work decorate many British churches and university buildings.  Additionally, Burne-Jones worked in ceramic tiles, jewelry, tapestries, mosaics, book illustration and had one notable (and unsatisfying) stage design commission, King Arthur starring Ellen Terry as Guinevere.  Edward Burne-Jones was considered a star within the contemporary Aesthetic Movement in England.

Mrs. George Marston Whitin, an American collector, commissioned a painting from Burne-Jones in 1896.  She requested a painting of a dancing figure and the artist accepted the commission.  Alas, this was also the year when Burne-Jones's friend and business partner, William Morris, died—throwing Burne-Jones into a spiral of depression.  He asked Mrs. Whitin if, instead of a dancer, she would accept a painting of his "Hope" allegory—a theme he had used in the past (mostly for stained glass windows: "Faith, Hope and Love").  She accepted and Burne-Jones completed the painting shortly before he died in 1898.

The allegorical painting shows the virtue of Hope personified by a beautiful woman in Renaissance-style clothing.  Though she is chained at the ankle—and lives behind bars—she holds one hand heavenward and, in the other arm, cradles a branch of apple blossoms, a symbol of hope.  The oil painting measures 70" tall by 25" wide.

The picture now hangs in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  I purchased the sepiatone print, shown here, in England.  It is the type of nice, museum store souvenir one would have purchased during a museum visit at the Turn-of-the-Century.  Perhaps the image had travelled to England for an exhibition of the British painter's works.  This is likely where the print was framed and sold.   Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com)

We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248