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The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination
While still a student at Oxford, Edward Burne-Jones formed a friendship and made a renunciation that would shape art history. The friendship was with William Morris, with whom he would occupy the social and intellectual center of the era's cult of beauty. The renunciation was of his intention to enter the clergy, when he--together with Morris--vowed to throw over the Churc ...more
Hardcover, 629 pages
Published by Faber & Faber
(first published September 1st 2011)
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Aug 05, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it 4 of 5 stars · review of another edition
I remember it all – and the processions –and the trombones – and the ancient singing – more beautiful than anything I had ever heard and I think I have never heard the like since. And the great organ that made the air tremble – and the greater organ that pealed out suddenly, and I thought the Day of Judgement had come – and the roof, and the long lights that are the most graceful things man has ever made. What a day it was, and how alive I was, and how young – and a blue dragonfly stood still in ...more
Jan 16, 2012 Victoria (Eve's Alexandria) rated it 5 of 5 stars · review of another edition
Done! And after three months of slow reading I gobbled up the last 200 pages in a single day. As always when I read biographies I felt that terrible swelling of emotion as Burne-Jones' life wound down to the inevitable end. Fiona MacCarthy's control of her subject in the last few chapters was very good; the way she tied off each loose end. I found myself tearing up at the death of William Morris, and was very moved by the description of Burne-Jones own quiet funeral at Rottingdean not many years ...more
This is what the French would call une brique. A monster doorstop of a book that will plunge you, rather enjoyably, into the lives of eminent late Victorians. Save Ruskin and Rossetti, I knew little of the Pre-Raphaelites (and Burne-Jones in particular) before reading this book, but found it hard to put down; the story is spun clearly and movingly. The friendships and spats glimmer on the surface: Morris's advances into socialism, the scandalous affair withe Greek muse/harpie Maria Zambaco, Burn ...more
MacCarthy writes so beautifully, she could create interest and meaning in her subject's toenail clippings. Her account is often moving on the friendship with Morris and Jones's passion for a beauty that defies the ugly new world of industrialization. Her discussion of Jones' less admirable traits is straightforward without being judgmental or overly apoloetic. I especially appreciated her sympathetic reading of of Georgiana Jones. Only the last chapter was a bit scattered and anticlimatic.
I didn't know about Edward Burne-Jones until I started looking into the Pre-Raphaelites; like many, I was lured in by William Morris's enormously broad influence and the Rossetti family name. Now, having read MacCarthy's precisely researched and written biography of Burne-Jones, I have decided I like B-J the best. It matters that, unlike almost all of his colleagues, he was born into Dickensian poverty in ugly Birmingham, England. His collaborative friendships with Morris, Millais, Rossetti, and ...more
Aug 22, 2013 Sharon rated it 4 of 5 stars · review of another edition
McCarthy is a an excellent biographer of figures of this period. I loved her biog of Morris and while I find Morris the much more likeable and interesting man her biog of Burne-Jones makes for excellent reading, capturing not just her subject but the cultural milieu in which he created such wonderful art. An excellent read!
Well-written, detailed biography of the famous Pre-Raphaelite painter. I found the introduction and conclusion to be very interesting, and to explain the artist's place in his world. However, in some places, I thought the book was a bit too detailed for the average reader.
published in 2011. Spotted the title in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Finally got my hands on it today. I had planned to go to New York in 1998 for the Burne-Jones Centennial exhibit but broke my ankle and could not get there. As I whisked through this highly readable biography, I kept referring to art books to see the works referenced. I think I need to get my hands on the souvenir book from the Metropolitan Museum's exhibit. This was the most enjoyable and engrossing read I've had in art/ ...more
I sought this after seeing some of Burne-Jones work in the Museo de Ponce. It's very long and dense, although the story does trip along. I had it for nine weeks, as I kept getting books which were expiring. I didn't finish it, mostly because I couldn't renew it any longer, and I'd been picking at it so long I wanted to move on to other things. I learned lots about the art movements of the mid-nineteenth century. After a while, I will likely read MacCarthy's work on William Morris, whom I have lo ...more
I love Burne-Jones' work and found this to be a great insight into the late 19th century art world. The fact that the author actually talks about the ideas behind the paintings and other works, and the motivations for the artist (and not just his love affairs) made it more valuable to me.