Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt

Study of Demophoön for ‘The Tree of Forgiveness’


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Graphite on paper
Support: 248 x 133 mm
Presented by Lord Duveen 1925

Display caption

In 1870 Burne-Jones exhibited 'Phyllis and Demophoon' at the Old Water-Colour Society. The story, treated by Ovid and Chaucer, concerns the love of Phyllis, Queen of Thrace, for Demophoon, one of the Greeks returning home from the Trojan Wars. By the time Demophoon came back to claim his love, Phyllis had been transformed into a barren almond tree. However, the tree burst into blooms of forgiveness when it was embraced. Burne-Jones resigned from the Society after he was asked to remove the watercolour because of the impropriety of its nude depiction of Demophoon. Much later he reworked the subject as an oil painting entitled 'The Tree of Forgiveness' (Lady Lever Art Gallery).

Gallery label, September 2004

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