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Art by Edward Burne-Jones

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Art by Edward Burne-Jones

Art by Edward Burne-Jones
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Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (28 August 1833–17 June 1898) was an English artist and designer closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and largely responsible for bringing the Pre-Raphaelites into the mainstream of the British art world, while at the same time executing some of the most exquisite and beautiful artwork of the time.
Burne-Jones was born in Birmingham, the son of a frame-maker at Bennetts Hill, where a blue plaque commemorates his birth. His mother died within six days of his being born, and he was raised by his father and an unsympathetic housekeeper. He attended Birmingham's King Edward VI grammar school, and then studied theology at Exeter College, Oxford. At Oxford he became a friend of William Morris as a consequence of a mutual interest in poetry, and was influenced by John Ruskin. At this time he discovered Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur which was to be so influential in his life.

He studied under Rossetti, but developed his own style influenced by his travels in Italy with Ruskin and others. He had intended to become a church minister, but under Morris's influence decided to become an artist and designer instead. After Oxford, from which he did not take a degree, he became closely involved in the rejuvenation of the tradition of stained glass art in England.

His troubled son Philip (1861–1926) became a successful portrait painter. His adored daughter Margaret (1866–1953) married John William Mackail (1850–1945); friend and biographer of Morris, and Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1911–1916.

Burne-Jones' studio assistant, Charles Fairfax Murray, went on to a successful art career as a painter in his own right. He later became an important collector and respected art dealer. Between 1903 and 1907 he sold a great many works by Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, at far below their market worth. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery now has the largest collection of works by Burne-Jones in the world, including the massive watercolour Star of Bethlehem, commissioned for the Gallery in 1897. The paintings were a strong influence on the young J.R.R. Tolkien, then growing up in Birmingham.

Burne-Jones was a very strong influence on the Birmingham Group of artists, from the 1890s onwards.