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EDWARD COLEY BURNE-JONES

Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - Knights of the Round Table Summoned to the Quest by the Strange Damsel (I)
 

Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - Knights of the Round Table Summoned to the Quest by the Strange Damsel (I), 1898 - 1899

Medium:
High warp tapestry, wool and silk weft on cotton warp.
Dimensions:
2450mm x 5350mm
Inscription:
CCCCLIII HIEMIBUS PERACTIS POST NATUM DMN NOSTRVMIC OPORTET HANC SEDE COMPLERI (Four hundred winters and four and fifty accomplished after the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ ought this siege to be fulfilled)
Provenance:
Presented by the Trustees of the Birmingham City Museums and Art Gallery Appeal Fund, with grants-in-aid from goverment fund administered by the Victoria & Albert Musem, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The National Art Collections Fund, the Friends of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, and the W. A. Cadbury Charitable Trust.

Accession Number:

1980M60

Description:

Depicts King Arthur and eight knights seated at the round table, with the strange damsel entering on the right leading a horse.

 

Exhibition History

1893 London
1900 Paris, France
1925 Wembley, London
1981 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
1998-99 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery; Musee d'Orsay, Paris
2002 www.datavista.co.uk/ctic
2003 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Bibliography:

Sir Edward Burne-Jones. Sketchbook . BMAG Accession number 1952P6\n: c 1875. pp.38, 76.
A B Bence Jones and Aymer Vallance. "The Revival of Tapestry Weaving. An Interview with Mr William Morris". Studio III: c 1895. pp.97-101.
Anonymous. "The Arras Tapestries of the San Graal at Stanmore Hall" . Studio XV: c late 19th century. pp.98-104.
Linda Parry. "The Stanmore Hall Tapestries". Art at Auction: 1978. pp.418-22.
Textiles by William Morris. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: 1981. T10.
William Morris and the Middle Ages. Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester: 1984. p.148, pl.VII.
Linda Parry. William Morris. Victoria & Albert Museum, London: 1996. p. 232.
Christopher Wood. Burne-Jones. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London: 1998. p. 115.
Nicholas Tromans. Pre-Raphaelites and Other Masters: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection. Royal Academy of Arts, London: 2003. pp. 242-243.

Research Information:

According to Christian legend the Holy Grail was the cup used at the Last Supper and during the Crucifixion to receive the blood of Christ. It was brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea, where it lay hidden for centuries. The

search for the vessel became the principal quest of the knights of King Arthur. The Holy Grail first appeared in a written text in Chretien de Troyes's Old French verse romance, the Conte del Graal ('Story of the Grail'), or Perceval, of c.1180. The Old French romances were translated into other European languages, including Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzifal (early 13th century) and Sir Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur (late 15th century).A collaboration between Edward Burne-Jones and Morris & Co saw the creation of a series of six narrative tapestries inspired by this legend, originally woven for Stanmore Hall in 1891-94. The series became one of the outstanding achievements of the Arts and Crafts movement.

'The Knights of the Round Table Summoned to the Quest by the Strange Damsel' is the first panel of the series. It shows the damsel appearing before the seated knights, calling them to undertake their quest for the Grail. To the left of the picture is the Siege Perilous; a chair draped with an inscribed cloth, which reads 'Four hundred winters and four and fifty accomplished after the passion of our Lord Jesu Christ ought this siege to be fulfilled.' To the right of the chair is King Arthur, and in front of it is Sir Lancelot, with his hand raised.Edward Burne-Jones began the figurative designs in 1890-91, with the floral foreground by J H Dearle and the heraldry by William Morris.