BURNE JONES (EDWAED)
Lot 123
BURNE JONES (EDWARD) Autograph letter signed, 1896
Sold for £2,125 (US$ 3,439) inc. premium

Lot Details
BURNE JONES (EDWARD)
Autograph letter signed ("Ned"), to "My dearest Hajie", announcing the death of a friend: "Our dear Top died To-day – I saw him for the last time yesterday, but I do not think he knew me – on Tuesday he was much worse and since then all has been hopeless (he had little pain – just dwindled & dwindled away – a telegram has just come as I was starting to go to him", 2 pages, 8vo, The Grange, "Saturday" [3 October 1896]

Footnotes

  • 'JUST DWINDLED & DWINDLED AWAY': BURNE JONES TO SWINBURNE, ANNOUNCING THE DEATH OF WILLIAM MORRIS. When Swinburne met Morris, Rossetti and Burne Jones while they working on their Oxford Union murals in the autumn of 1857, Burne Jones remarked that 'Now we were four in company not three' (Georgina Burne-Jones, Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, 1904, i., p. 163). This intense friendship, fuelled by shared ideals and mutual hero-worship was to last until death. Rossetti of course was the first to go, dying in 1882. Morris's death on 3 October 1896 struck Burne Jones especially hard, and is widely seen as presaging his own end: 'In 1896 Ned and Georgie were cast down by the death of their great friend Morris. Burne-Jones had further cause to reflect upon old friendships when in 1897 he helped to organize an exhibition of works by Rossetti for the New Gallery. He seems to have grown old before his time, burdened by an awareness of so much unfinished work and a sense of life's shortness. His health was never robust, and by the late 1890s he was distinctly frail. He died of angina on the night of 16 June 1898, at home at The Grange' (Christopher Newall, ODNB). Shortly before his death, Burne Jones dedicated his painting Love Leading the Pilgrim to Swinburne, while Swinburne was to dedicate his last collection A Channel Crossing to the memory of his friend. Only part of their correspondence survives, most of Swinburne's side having been burnt by Burne Jones in 1890 while confessing that they were 'such brilliant ones... I was loth to let them go' (Memorials, ii, p. 206; see John Christian, 'Speaking of Kisses in Paradise: Burne-Jones's Friendship with Swinburne', Journal of William Morris Studies, August 1998, pp. 14-24).

    Morris was known to his friends as 'Topsy', or 'Top', after the slave girl in Uncle Tom's Cabin on account of his uncontrollably curly hair. Swinburne's nickname of 'Hadji' derived from his childhood and reflects his father's naval career in the East, where he had to deal with the peremptory demands of a real-life Hadji.
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