"The Fountain of Youth" (pastel drawing for portion of the painting)

Edward Burne-Jones, Artist

This is one of the drawings in our collection. It was made in England in 1892.
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About the Work
2001 exhibition: Leverhulme's Gifts - label text.
Sir Edward Burne-Jones was a painter, illustrator and designer associated with the second phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were a group of English painters and poets who professed to see a greater sincerity in art and admired the sentimentality in the paintings found in Florence and Sienna prior to the “pompous posturing of Raphael” as found in his Transfiguration of 1520. The later phase of the Pre-Raphaelites is characterised by a dependency on obscure symbolism, as opposed to expression in art.

At Exeter College, Oxford he met fellow theology student William Morris who stimulated Burne-Jones’ interest in art. He then met Dante Gabriel Rossetti, one of the original members of the Pre-Raphaelites, to whom he became an apprentice in 1856. Among Burne-Jones's favourite subjects were graceful girls, angels, gods and heroes who all usually appear in a state of deep melancholy, thought or repose. Grace and languor, emphasised by drapery and his use of colour gives an unearthly remoteness to his paintings. He proclaimed:
“I mean by a picture a beautiful romantic dream, of something that never was, never will be – in a light better than any that ever shone – in a land no-one can define or remember, only desire – and the forms divinely beautiful.”

Although he completed some 200 oil paintings during his lifetime, Burne-Jones had a habit of returning to unfinished pictures many years afterwards. Although Fountain of Youth was begun in 1872, it did not receive Burne-Jones’ finishing touch as he deemed it too ambitious in scale. It rests here in Wanganui in a state of incompletion.

Tate Britain label for their work - Fountain of Youth, Sept 2004:
According to his wife, Burne-Jones first began a large version of ‘The Fountain of Youth’ in 1873, which may be identified as this painting. The fountain of immortality was a theme he returned to several times over the years. Although the precise source of the subject is unknown, it is most probably derived from classical mythology. The Muses were thought to visit a spring on Mount Parnassis from which sprang the fountain of Castalia, the source of poetic inspiration.
Measurements
Support 1600 x 1600mm
Frame 2020 x 1970mm
Media
coloured chalks on paper and canvas
Description
In accordance to his Pre-Raphaelite associations, Burne-Jones' favourite subjects were graceful girls, angels, gods and heroes who all usually appear in a state of deep melancholy, thought or repose. Grace and languor, emphasised by drapery and his use of colour gives an unearthly remoteness to his paintings. He proclaimed:
“I mean by a picture a beautiful romantic dream, of something that never was, never will be – in a light better that any that ever shone – in a land no-one can define or remember, only desire – and the forms divinely beautiful.”

Although he completed some 200 oil paintings during his lifetime, Burne-Jones had a habit of returning to unfinished pictures many years afterwards. Although Fountain of Youth was begun in 1872, it did not receive Burne-Jones’ finishing touch he regarded it too ambitious in scale. It rests in Wanganui in a state of permanent incompletion.
Label from exhibition Leverhulme's Gifts 2001
Credit Line
Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Gift of Lord Leverhulme, 1924
Collection Type
Permanent collection
Acquisition Date
08 Apr 1924

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Accession Number:
1924/1/5

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