Burne-Jones, Edward (1833-98; English)
Ladies and Death (1860)
Pen & ink over pencil laid down on thin card, 14.4 x 45.0 cm
Purchased, 1898 (advice of Joseph Pennell)
National Gallery of Victoria (41-2)

Burne-Jones met William Morris while studying at Oxford in the 1850s, and later came under the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites, especially Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

This drawing, described in the NGV’s Annual Report for 1898 as “study for tapestry,” was the first of Burne-Jones’ works to enter the NGV collection; others were acquired after 1905. It shows his version of the medieval legend of the Three Living and the Three Dead, as represented for example in the famous 14th-century fresco in the Campo Santo cemetery adjoining the cathedral at Pisa.


AR 1898, p.26 (as “Study for Tapestry”); NGV 1905, p.61 (II.Stawell Gallery, no.88) [£15/15] 

For Burne-Jones, see AKL 15 (1997), 255-57; Bénézit 3, 57-60; and for other works by the artist in the NGV, see http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/artist/870/. For the iconography, see e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Dead_Kings and http://www.academia.edu/5610264/The_meeting_of_the_three_living_and_the_three_dead