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The Sirens - Female Head Study

The Sirens - Female Head Study, 1895

Pencil on paper.
449mm x 331mm
E B J/ 1895/ for the picture of The Sirens.
Presented by Arthur S Dixon, 1898.

Accession Number:



A profile head study.


Exhibition History

1929 Royal Museum of Arts, Brussels
1966-67 Worcester Art Gallery; Newark on Trent Art Gallery; Keele Art Gallery; Stafford City Art Gallery; Kidderminster Art Gallery; Warwick Art Gallery; Walsall Art Gallery; Burton on Trent Art Gallery
1971 Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield
1986-87 Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome
1993 Neue Pinakothek, Munich; Museo del Prado
1995 Seattle Art Museum; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
1998-99 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery; Musee d'Orsay, Paris
2007-08 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; Leighton House Museum, London


Burlington Fine Arts Club. Exhibition of Drawings and Studies by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Bart.. Burlington Fine Arts Club: 1899. p. 9 (no. 31).
A E Whitley. Catalogue of Drawings. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: 1939. p.101.
Herron Museum of Art. The Pre-Raphaelites. Gallery of Modern Art, New York: 1964. Pls. 14 & 30.
Julian Hartnoll. Burne-Jones et l'influence des PreRaphaelites. Galerie du Luxembourg, Paris: 1972. pp. 34, 36.
Martin Harrison and Bill Waters. Burne-Jones. Barrie & Jenkins, London: 1973. p.161.
Sotheby's. Important Victorian Paintings. Sotheby's: 3 November 1993. p.100.
Elisa Korb with John Christian and Tessa Sidey. Hidden Burne-Jones, Works on paper by Edward Burne-Jones from Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. Dan Giles, Ltd., London: 2007. p. 78, B602.

Research Information:

Three large-scale versions of the 'Sirens' are extant, but both are unfinished: the large oil on canvas (1870-1875) is in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida; a watercolour and gouache version (1871-1898) in a private collection (see Sotheby's, 3 November 1993, Lot 201); and a large pastel version (1872-1890) also in a private collection previously owned by Philip Burne-Jones (see Christie's, 3 February 1956 as well as 'Burne-Jones et l'influence des PreRaphaelites, an exhibition by Hartnoll & Eyre at the Galerie du Luxembourg, Paris, 1972, catalogue number 17). A full-scale compositional study in coloured chalks, dated c. 1870 is in the Collection of Mrs Virginia Surtees (exhibited in 1971 at the Piccadilly Gallery, London, cat. no. 11). In 1899 at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in London, three head studies, in pencil, were exhibited (nos. 31, 96 and 109), relating to the large scale version of 'The Sirens'. A large number of individual head studies are extant, including BMAG's own. A beautiful profile study, also dated 1895, is owned by the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego (California); a similar study is owned by the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (accession no. 1943.678). A study for the ship is in the National Museum of South Africa, Cape Town.