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The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination
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The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  144 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Edward Burne-Jones is the greatest British artist of the second half of the nineteenth century. With research and fresh historical perspective, this biography tells the dramatic story of Burne-Jones as an artist, a key figure in Victorian society and a peculiarly captivating man.
ebook, 629 pages
Published January 1st 2011 by Faber & Faber
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Paul Bryant
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
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
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
Andrew Schirmer
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
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.
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!
Eric Hansen
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mick Kelly
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography by Fiona McCarthy - detailed and absorbing. I am not a fan of Burne-Jones' painting, nor of pre-Raphaelite art in general - but I do find their stories, and these years of Victorian Britain, totally absorbing. He is a fascinating man - though a bit infuriating and unreliable (as befits an artist!!).

I think the hero of this book is really his wife, Georgina. As Burne-Jones pursued other women, she became closer to B-J's great friend, William Morris, adopting his Socialist ide
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Charles Stephen
May 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mr Nick Williamson
A wonderful passionate biography

The author has produced an enthralling account of the life of one of the towering figures of British art. Moreover she is able to illuminate the factors that make his works so powerful and evocative to many of us.
It is rare for a biography to carry its plethora of facts and dates so lightly whilst telling a complex and moving story with deceptive ease.
Yasmine Zong
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Technically speaking it took me about 3 months to finish this lengthy book.The language is a little bit dry and sometimes it's simply listing events and dialogues,nevertheless the author drew me closer to this great artist and the Victorian intellectual society,indeed this book is not just about Sir Edward Burne-Jones but the imagination of an age.
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of my favourite artists. This has inspired me to seek out much more of hos work. He was so prolific, there is plenty around me to go and see. A very good biography, I already miss him and William Morris.
Bill Wells
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Peter Pinkney
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written book. Not sure whether I liked him or not, but was enthralled with his story. His wife Georgie is much more interesting, especially with her participation in early Womens' movements and Socialism. That would be a biography that I would love to read
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Fiona McCarthy writes like a dream. Her artist's biographies are insightful and informative. I gained a new appreciation of Burne-Jones though I thought I was knowledgeable about him.
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic view of the art and life of a brilliant artist.
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography

This was a well-researched, compelling book. It was a great companion to MAY & AMY.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm still going but this is enthralling. Enough for me to carry the equivalent of a brick on public transport! Fiona MacCarthy is a wizard.
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Besides being an insightful biography of Burne-Jones, it also covers the artists in his circle. Very nice illustrations.
Lisa H.
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, thorough, very readable biography of Burne-Jones.

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