King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid by Burne-Jones

Edward Burne-Jones [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


This was another painting that I discovered on my visit to Tate Britain, it is really interesting  to go a gallery with the aim of finding narrative paintings to research and annotate.

I had seen images of Burne-Jones work before, but the scale of this painting surprised me. I had read in books about ‘verticality’ in paintings – as soon as I saw this I knew instantly what was meant by the term. The shape and composition of this painting combine to draw the eye up the image.

Researching the background to this painting taught me about influences too – not just the poem and ballad of King Cophetua – but the possible artistic influences, in this case the painting by Mantegna. The more work I do on this course the more I discover the various influences that are brought to bear on a particular painting.

I also learned from this research that anemones are the symbol of rejected love.

You can see my notes on the painting here: King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid