Palazzo Reale (Milan, Italy): Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
- Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt 1833–1898
- Tempera on paper
- Support: 262 x 258 mm
- Bequeathed by A.N. MacNicholl 1916
According to Greek myth, Sisyphus was punished for challenging the gods (hubris). They condemned him to spend eternity rolling a boulder uphill; each time he neared the top it rolled back. The downward sweep of Burne-Jones’s design emphasises the fruitlessness of Sisyphus’s labour.
The roundel was one of eight made to decorate a grand piano for MP William Graham, linked by the story of Orpheus - whose music charmed all who heard it - and his descent into the Underworld in an attempt to rescue Eurydice, his wife. The beauty of Orpheus’s playing caused Sisyphus to pause in his task.
Gallery label, October 2013
Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.