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Watercolour - King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid - Cartoon Study

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

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Basic Information

Accession Number:1947P18
Collection:Fine Art Prints and Drawings
Date:1883 - 1883

Maker Information

Artist:Sir Edward Burne-Jones - View biography for Sir Edward Burne-Jones


This is a full size prepatory cartoon for the oil painting exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1884 and now in the Tate Gallery. Although the subject was set down as a ballad in Thomas Percy's 'Reliques of English Poetry' (1612), Burne-Jones's inspiration was more likely to have been Tennyson's poem 'The Beggar Maid'. He seems to have turned to the seventeenth-century source, however, for this striking image of the beggar maid Penelophon's bewilderment at the king's proposal of marriage:

The beggar blusheth scarlet red,
And straight again as pale as lead,
But not a word at all was said,
She was in such amaze.

In an amusing letter of November 1883, Burne-Jones wrote: ' put on the Beggar Maid a sufficiently beggarly coat, that will not look unappetising to King Cophetua - that I hope has been achieved, so that she will look as if she deserved to have it made of cloth of gold and pearls. I hope the king kept the old one and looked at it now and then.'

Presented by Col Rex Benson through the National Art Collections Fund, 1947.

Further Information

Production Period:19th century
School/Style:Percy, Shakespeare Tennyson Poverty Clas
Medium:Bodycolour, watercolour, chalks and pastel with gold medium and gum arabic.

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Height:2910 mm
Width:1320 mm