I also love Sir Edward Burne-Jones' paintings. They always have an element of the fantastic in them. I love art that tell a story and so many of his paintings and woodcuts do! This series, entitled "Briar Rose," is among my favourites. I think it also shows his artistic talent at its best and most mature.
Burne-Jones's had a longstanding intrest in the story of Sleeping Beauty (or Briar Rose). He first did a tile panel of the story in 1864. Later, in 180 he did a small series of oil paintings for William Graham. In 1890 (nearly thirty years after the first series) Burne-Jones created a large set of four oil paintings that told the story of Sleeping Beauty (Briar Rose). The series was purchased by Alexander Henderson, who later became the first Lord Faringdon, and installed in Buscot Park, Oxfordshire (where they still hang today). Burne-Jones's interest in the Sleeping Beauty story of the Briar Rose began as early as a tile panel in 1864. A small series of oil paintings for William Graham followed, and then a larger set of four oils, finally completed in 1890 before being bought by Alexander Henderson, later 1st Lord Faringdon, and installed in Buscot Park, Oxfordshire.
Burne-Jones' friend William Morris composed verses to accompany each of the paintings.
One thing that always bothers me about this series is that you never see Briar Rose wake up! Why do you think that is? You see the prince in the first picture, but the rest of the pictures focus on the sleeping kingdom. Perhaps he just wants to leave the final scene to our imaginations? Hmmm. Nevertheless, they are lovely, lovely paintings (you can click on the pictures to see them full size).
The Briar Wood
The fateful slumber floats and flows
About the tangle of the rose.
But lo the fated hand and heart
To rend the slumberous curse apart.
The Council Chamber
The threat of war, the hope of peace
The Kingdom's peril and increase.
Sleep on, and bide the latter day
When fate shall take her chains away.
The Garden Court
The maiden pleasance of the land
Knoweth no stir of voice or hand,
No cup the sleeping waters fill,
The restless shuttle lieth still.
The Rose Bower
Here lies the hoarded love the key
To all the treasure that shall be.
Come, fated hand, the gift to take
And smite the sleeping world awake.