Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt
Tantalus c.1870

Artwork details

Title
Tantalus
Date c.1870
Medium Tempera on paper
Dimensions Support: 258 x 257 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Bequeathed by A.N. MacNicholl 1916
Reference
N03142
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

According to Greek myth, Tantalus tried to trick the gods. They condemned him to stand for eternity in a pool beneath a tree heavy with fruit. Much as he tried, he could never reach far enough to eat or drink.

The design was one of eight, made to decorate a grand piano for William Graham, MP. They were linked by the story of Orpheus - whose music charmed all who heard it - and his descent into the Underworld in a failed attempt to rescue his wife Eurydice.

October 2013

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