Kensington Square Kensington, London, England CALMG : 1949.125.31 gouache

The Goldfish Pool 1861 by Edward Burne-Jones.

This is one of a series of beautiful women painted by Burne-Jones in the 1860s. It was commissioned by George Price Boyce in 1861. The model is sitting on the low wall of a pool filled with goldfish. William Morris designed the dress she is wearing for his future wife, Jane Burden, to pose in his paintings La Belle Iseult and Guinevere prior to their marriage in 1859. The setting for this picture is possibly William Morris’s new home - The Red House, Bexleyheath, Kent. The house was designed by Philip Webb in 1859 for Morris and his new wife Jane Burden. Keeping to the Medieval theme, Burne-Jones also designed medieval rosettes for the picture frame which was possibly made by his father, Edward Richard Jones.

This picture demonstrates Burne-Jones’s prime interest in colour. He used watercolour for much of his work in the 1860s because of the small scale it offered. Inspired by Rossetti’s unconventional technique he achieved a wide range of effects. He mixed watercolour with gum and scratched, sponged and blotted the wet colour. Burne-Jones is a major late Pre-Raphaelite painter. This rare early watercolour has glowing jewel-like colours. The model is wearing an unconventional style of dress popularised by the Pre-Raphaelites.

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