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Edward Burne-Jones, Flamma Vestalis (19th century)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Flamma Vestalis (19th century) by Edward Burne-Jones.

About the Work

Title : Flamma Vestalis
Artist : Edward Burne-Jones
Year : 19th century
Medium : Oil on canvas
Dimensions : 96.5 x 72.4 cm (38 x 28 1/2 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The work here is a portrait of Edward Burne-Jones’ daughter,  Margaret. The work was made to represent Margaret as a young and innocent, seeing as it was made before she was wed. Margaret looks down coyly at the ground. Her hair is tied tightly and covered. She wears a dark coloured dress with full sleeves. It’s almost as if the identity of who Margaret is, is withheld from the viewer as she hides her eyes and looks away.

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“The Latin title refers to the Vestal Virgins of Rome, who tended the perpetual fire on the altar of the goddess Vesta.”

Other Details

Edward Burne-Jones’s Flamma Vestalis is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2710. It is part of the museum’s collection of the North Arcade. This work has been housed at the Fogg Art Museum since 1943.

To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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