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

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

Fighting Boys

signed, inscribed and dated 'MARCH. X/to L from ebj'; black chalk
11 x 15 5/8in. (279 x 397mm.)
T. Martin Woodk, Drawings of Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1907 p. XXXVI

Lot Essay

An outstanding example of the whimsical or humorous drawings that Burne-Jones made throughout his career, often for children, 'but really', as Lady Burne-Jones observed, 'for the child that was always in himself. There was one set of designs that he called "The Horrours of Mountainous Lands", and another named "The Pleasures of the Plain"', ... A third series dealt with "The Heroic Stories of Britain" ... Everything and all things made excuse for some fresh design when this mood was on him' (Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, 1904, II, pp. 66-7). Many of these drawings were done for his grand-daughter Angela Mackail, later the novelist Angela Thirkell, who gives good account of them in her book Three Houses (1931); others were made for Katie Lewis, the daughter of the famous solicitor, whose illustrated letters from Burne-Jones (British Museum) have been published. The initials of the recipient of the present drawing are hard to decipher, but if read as 'G.L.' or 'B.L.' they could stand for one of Katie's parents, George and Betty Lewis.

The drawing dates from about 1890, and the landscape and ducks are inspired by the scenery of Rottingdean, the village near Brighton where Burne-Jones acquired a country retreat in 1880. T. Martin Wood also illustrates a similar drawing of children with fighting cats (op. cit, pl. XXXIX), but reproduces both of them as it they were in red chalk

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