Pyramus and Thisbe were Babylonian lovers in Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' (IV, 55-465), as well as Chaucer's 'Legend of Good Women' and were retold again in Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream'. This drawing along with one of Thisbe are described as being for tiles in the 1935 Birmingham catalogue. They appear far too detailed to be used as such and are not divided by a grid to show individual tiles as are other well-developed designs. The physiognomy of both Pyramus and Thisbe in the drawing are closely related to facial studies Burne-Jones made of Maria Zambaco in 1866 and 1867, so this drawing may date to as late as 1868. He later employed her facial features in the 1872-76 'Pyramus and Thisbe' triptych (now in the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead). Additionally, the verso is most likely a compositional sketch for the St. George series of drawings and paintings, executed contemporaneouslly with the Pyramus on the recto. This sketch probably is for the third panel in the series, 'The Princess draws the fatal Lot', as it closely resembles both the finished pencil drawing (1865-66, now in the British Museum) as well as the oil painting (1866-67, now in Hanover College, Indiana, USA).

  • Bequeathed by James Richardson Holliday, 1927.
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones -


Type Position(s) Method Date(s) Notes
And at the laste this Piramus ys come/ But al to long, allas, at home was hee:/ The moone shoone, men myente wel ysee,/ And in his way, as that he come ful faste/ His eighen to the grounde adoun he caste.// VERSO: cape face shifting out with hand/ handsome face/ eyes flat/ hands on shoulder
Inscription Front Handwritten - Pencil. Verse & Instructions written in the artist's hand


Catalogue No. Venue Date(s)
Burne-Jones: dal preraffaelismo al simbolismo
92 Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome 1986-10-07 - 1987-01-03
L'Amore: dall'Olimpico all'alcova
3.8; repro on 154 Mole Antonelliana, Turin 1992-05-30 - 1992-10-04
Morris & Co. Tiles
62a William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow 1996-09-14 - 1997-01-05


Author(s) Date(s) Publisher Pages
City of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: Catalogue of the Permanent Collection of Drawings
A E Whitley 1939 Bemrose & Sons Ltd, Derby p. 148
William Morris Tiles
Hilary Myers, Richard Myers 1996 Richard Dennis, Somerset p. 62; fig. 73
Hidden Burne-Jones, Works on paper by Edward Burne-Jones from Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
2007 Dan Giles, Ltd., London p. 94

Associated people

Name Type
Maria Zambaco Artist's model
Ovid Author

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