Saturday, July 13, 2013

Painting of the Day: The Mill: Girls Dancing to Music by a River, 1870

Click to Dance to Music by a River

"The Mill: Girls Dancing to Music by a River"
Edward Burne-Jones, 1870-1882
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Inspired by the art of the Italian Renaissance which looked to Classical subjects, this painting by Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) is entitled “The Mill: Girls Dancing to Music by a River.” The subject, clearly, is actually a depiction of “The Three Graces.” They’re dancing to the music of Apollo.

Burne-Jones used, as models friends, and relatives of the prominent art collection 
Constantine Alexander Ionides. The woman on the far left, one Mary Zambaco, was for awhile, a lover of Burne-Jones. She was also Mr. Ionides’ granddaughter. It didn’t end well. In fact, in another painting of the same year, “Phyllis and Demophoon,” Burne-Jones inscribed of Zambaco, the epigraph “Dic mihi quod feci? Nisi non sapienter amavi” (Tell me, what have I done? Except that I have not loved wisely).

The composition was started in 1870. But, it appears it wasn’t delivered to Ionides immediately. Burne-Jones took twelve years to finish it. Some feel that the artist developed an attachment to the painting because of his relationship with Zambaco. It was presented to Ionides in 1882 after being displayed at the Royal Academy. The inventory of Ionides’ collection as of 1882 lists that he paid £905 for “The Mill.” 

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