The Sinister Head, Burne Jones

The Sinister Head, Burne Jones
The Sinister Head, Burne Jones

Throughout the history of painting there are many artists who have been influenced by other arts and especially by poetry, thus poetry and painting have come together to give rise to some of the best works of art from history, proof of this are works as significant as Dante's boat painted by Delacroix. In this sense, we must point out how a group of artists appeared in 19th-century England who, together with poets and critics, had a notable influence on 20th-century painting, the Pre-Raphaelites. In fact, it is important to note that the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood itself lasted a little over five years however, its influence quickly spread influencing 20th century artists.


The work that we analyze here is the conjunction between painting and ancient poetry and is the result of the brush of one of the most outstanding pre-Raphaelite artists, Edward Coley Burne Jones (1833 – 1898) who is considered one of the artists most notable of this artistic movement and who elevated the English painting of the time to the most international environments. The piece that we are analyzing here is en titled The sinister head and it is an oil on canvas that was painted in 1887; It is a vertical format painting and measures one hundred and thirty centimeters wide and one hundred and fifty-five centimeters high.

The canvas is part of a cycle of inspirationmythological art that Arthur James Balfour commissioned the artist based on the figure of Perseus as a symbol of freedom for the decoration of one of the rooms of his house in Carlton Gardens.

This particular painting represents one of the final episodes when the hero after killing the terrible Medusa, one of the three gorgons that terrified men and were a symbol of evil. Back home, the hero fell madly in love with Andromeda and after saving her from innumerable dangers, he showed him Medusa's head through the reflection of her face in a well. This is precisely the image that the artist shows us, Perseus and Andromeda hold hands and together they look at the reflection of the monster.

On the canvas some of the best stylistic features of the painter can be seen, such as the sculptural appearance of the characters reinforced by the cold tonality of the work, the medievalist features represented by the well or the garden where the scene takes place etc.

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