'The Venusburg Legend' by Maistre Antoine Gaget (1530) was the source for William Morris''Hill of Venus' in his 'Earthly Paradise'. It tells of 'a certain young man, who by strange adventure, fell into the power of Venus, and who, repenting of his life with her, was fain to return to the world and amend all, but might not.' The young man's name is Walter, and must gain forgiveness for his sins from the Pope himself. But, because his sin is so great, the Pope proclaims Walter which is as likely to happen as his own staff turing into a flower (which it later does).According to Fortunee de Lisle, the drawings for this subject were executed before Morris' poem had actually been written. Burne-Jones made 20 drawings in all for this story (the finished versions are in the Ashmolean Museum). These designs are final tracing states, or advanced stages in the working out of this composition. They have not been drawn over on the reverse. De Lisle dates the designs for this subject 1867-68.This design probably illustrates the following lines:'Softly they flowed across his glimmering way,Young men and girls thin-clad and garlanded.'

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


Association Artist Organisation
Artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones -


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. 88
Hidden Burne-Jones, Works on paper by Edward Burne-Jones from Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
2007 Dan Giles, Ltd., London p. 73

Associated people

Name Type
William Morris Author

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