'Sick, sad dreams': Burne-Jones and Pre-Raphaelite Medievalism

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Much Victorian art shows evidence of the interest in and influence of the literature and visual culture of the Middle Ages. However, from the late 1850s several projects involving the Pre-Raphaelites and their followers suggest a different use of these medievalist sources. Critics interpreted this new interest as 'morbid' and 'unwholesome'. Edward Burne-Jones's move towards allegorical subjects and his method of work are evidence of a methodology related to Walter Pater and Aestheticist criticism. Influenced by Chaucer's 'dream-vision' works, Burne-Jones's paintings develop a synthesis of literature and myth that enables him to explore ideas of love and sexual desire.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-140
Number of pages20
JournalYearbook of English Studies
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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