Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt

King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid


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Oil paint on canvas
Support: 2934 × 1359 mm
frame: 3832 × 2203 × 215
Presented by subscribers 1900

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This work was based on Alfred Tennyson’s poem ‘The Beggar Maid’. King Cophetua of Ethiopia falls in love with Penelophon, a young woman he sees begging for money. They marry, and she becomes Queen. This work was considered Burne-Jones’s greatest achievement. Critics praised it for its technical skill and for the message that love is more important than wealth and power. Through this painting and its reproduction as a print, Burne-Jones became seen in Europe as the most important symbolist painter of his generation.

Gallery label, August 2019

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