Edward Burne-Jones’ Art and Music: A Chant of Love


  • Liana De Girolami Cheney Professor of Art HIstory President of ATSAH (Association for Textual Scholarship in Art History)




Edward Burne-Jones, Maria Zambaco, paragone (comparison), music, love, art, Pre-Raphaelites.


This essay examines Edward Burne-Jones’ (August 28, 1833–June 17, 1898) artistic concepts of ut pictura poesis (as is painting, so is poetry) and ut pictura musica (as is painting so is music), a comparison of poetry, music, and painting depicted in his imagery of the Female Musician of 1866 (at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, UK, Fig. 1), and Music of 1877 (at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, UK, Fig. 2).  The comparison or paragone between music and art is viewed here in two ways: 1) in a natural realm as an expression of love for a muse, Maria Cassavetti Zambaco; and 2) in a metaphysical realm as a vehicle of artist expression for depicting beauty. Painting and music are then poetical guidance for Burne-Jones’ manifestation of love. Maria is Burne-Jones’ model, muse, and sorceress. His paintings are depictions of musical scenes that capture a poetical world of ardent and endless love, as well the world of the senses, a physical realm, and the world of aesthetics, a metaphysical realm.


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