The Love Song

Artist: Sir Edward Burne-Jones (British, Birmingham 1833–1898 Fulham)

Date: 1868–77

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 45 x 61 3/8 in. (114.3 x 155.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: The Alfred N. Punnett Endowment Fund, 1947

Accession Number: 47.26


Burne-Jones associated this painting with a refrain from a Breton folk ballad: "Alas, I know a love song, / Sad or happy, each in turn." Drawing inspiration from the gothicizing Pre-Raphaelite movement, the artist conjured a twilight scene with a richly romantic, medieval air, enhanced by allusions to Italian Renaissance art, from the warm, dewy colors to the gracious figures and original frame, which recalls sixteenth-and-seventeenth-century Venetian designs. When the picture was first exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, London, in 1878, the novelist Henry James admiringly compared it to "some mellow Giorgione or some richly-glowing Titian."

Listen to the song that inspired the painting.