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The focus of Burne-Jones's painting 'The Mill' (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum) is a group of three women, whose pose recalls the dance of the mythical Three Graces. The elegant drapery study exhibited here is for the central of the three figures, which was modelled by Maria Zambaco. The model for the other drawing may have been Maria Stillman (née Spartali), who was herself an artist. Like Maria Zambaco, she was a member of the rich Greek Ionides family, who were important collectors of contemporary art. Both drawings date from the early 1870s, but 'The Mill' was another painting the artist worked on over a long period, and was only completed in 1882.

September 2004