Sir Ewdard Coley Burne-Jones Bt., ARA 1833-1898 Rare colotype from The Flower Book. "Grave of the Sea"

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Sir Edward Coley BURNE-JONES Bt ARA (1833-1898)

From “The Flower Book”

Colotype lithographs heightened with gouaches

Printed by Piazza for the Fine Art Society in 1905

A series of 38 “Pre-Raphaelite” symbolist images.

Limited to 300 copies only.


Six inch roundels in colotype after Burne-Jones' water colours, now in the British Museum. 


The printer, Piazza, had the approval of the artist's wife, Georgiana Burne-Jones, to create these, because their quality is exceptional.


Pure mineral colours are used in the print process and finished by hand in water colour pigments. 
Each was set in a separate mount, with the intention that they could be individually framed and displayed.


The original Flower Book consists of thirty-eight watercolours, tiny roundels, each six inches across.


In his list of works Burne-Jones described them as 'a series of illustrations to the Names of Flowers'. He used traditional flower names as stepping-stones into his own imaginative world: as his wife put it, 'not a single flower itself appears'. She wrote of Burne-Jones’s aims in detail in her introduction to the 1905 facsimile of the book:
'At first he thought any lovely or romantic name would lend itself to his purpose, but soon found ... that comparatively few were of use. Such as had too obvious a meaning as for instance ODIN’S HELM or FAIR MAID OF FRANCE, he rejected because there was not any reserve of thought in them for imagination to work upon. A picture, he held, should be no faint echo of other men’s thoughts, but 'a voice concurrent or prophetical'. It was easy enough, he said, merely to illustrate, but he wanted to add to the meaning of words or to wring their secret from them'.
Because the watercolours were made for his own private pleasure they represent the quintessence of his imaginative vision. Some are re-workings of subjects he had treated in easel paintings, while others, like the watercolours represented in colotype, are entirely original.
Burne-Jones began the series in 1882 as 'rest from more laborious work' and his wife described them as 'the most soothing piece of work that he ever did'. He continued to produce designs until the end of his life and the facsimile contains a long list of names, which he collected to inspire further images. Many were drawn at Rottingdean, his summer home. He was supposed to rest there, but as he wrote in 1887: 'At first I tried to do nothing, but cannot acquire the taste; so after an uncomfortable two days I began upon my flower-book'.