Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt

King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid

1884

In 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

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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