Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt

King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid

1884

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 2934 x 1359 mm
frame: 3885 x 2200 x 220
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by subscribers 1900
Reference
N01771

Display caption

Burne-Jones’s painting of the African king Cophetua and his love for the beggar Penelophon was based on an Elizabethan ballad and Tennyson’s poem The Beggar Maid. The painting became famous for its technical execution and theme of love and beauty transcending power and material wealth. It was regarded as one of the finest paintings ever produced by a British artist and was widely admired on the Continent. The picture’s egalitarian story has also been connected with the socialism of Burne-Jones’s close friend William Morris.

Gallery label, November 2016