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After Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt., A.R.A. (1833-1898)

Flamma Vestalis, by Eugene Gaujean (1850-1900)

After Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt., A.R.A. (1833-1898)
Flamma Vestalis, by Eugene Gaujean (1850-1900)
etching, on vellum, signed 'E. Burne-Jones' in pencil (lower left) and 'Gaujean' (lower right), published November 1s.t. 1887 by Thos. Agnew & Sons London, Liverpool & Manchester, with margins
15¾ x 5 5/8 in. (40 x 14½ cm.)
Julian Hartnoll, The Reproductive Engravings after Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1988, no. 4, pl. 13, pp. 40-1.
A copy of this print was exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1880, no. 1621 and at the New Gallery, Burne-Jones, 1898-99, no. 232.

Lot Essay

The Printsellers' Association (1892) records an edition, declared January 6th 1888, of 350 Artist's Proofs at 5 Guineas, 25 Presentation proofs and an unspecified quantity of prints at 1 guinea.

The etching is after an oil, now in a private collection which was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1886. It is a fanciful portrait of Burne-Jones's daughter Margaret to whom he was deeply attached. By his choice of title and the motif of the flaming torch embroidered on her sleeve he associates her with the Vestal Virgins of Rome, whose duty it was to tend the sacred flame of the goddess Vesta. This was appropriate since Margaret was not to marry the scholar and civil servant J.W. Mackail until 1888. Typically, however, he combines this classical reference with Christian iconography by showing her holding a rosary. Reviewing the Grosvenor exhibition in the Athenaeum, F.G. Stephens went so far as to see her as 'a nun... [who] seemed to have been reciting her orisons'.

The oil belonged first to the distinguished judge Lord Davey, whose collection, which also included examples of Watts, Leighton, Rossetti and Albert Moore, was sold at Christie's on 20 April, 1907. It was subsequently owned by Sir Henry Tate, in whose family it remained until 1969. Two other versions of the oil are known to have been executed. One is now in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass. while the other is untraced.

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