A page from the facsimile edition of Burne-Jones' Flower Book, one of 38 watercolour designs reproduced by Henri Piazza et Cie, for the Fine Art Society, London in 1905. 'Venus's Looking Glass' is a common name for three different plants: Legousia speculum-veneris (a hybrid native to Europe, the most likely candidate), the Venus Looking-Glass weed flower (least likely as it's native to North America), or the campanula, more commonly known as 'rampion' (Phyteuma). I tend to favour the latter, because of the connection of rampion to the 'Rapunzel' story, which Burne-Jones is known to have liked. It is less of an obvious connection, but the manner in which he has depicted the long, flowing hair of the figure, with only the moon for a mirror, recalls the Rapunzel story. The image has its roots in two earlier paintings called 'Mirror of Venus', a version of 1867-77 (Collection of Lloyd Webber), and a later one, completed 1870-76 (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon).

  • Purchased, 1953.
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones -


Type Position(s) Method Date(s) Notes
The full moon is made her mirror.
Label - Printed - description of the scene, written by the artist. printed by the artist, herein a facsimile


Author(s) Date(s) Publisher Pages
Bill Waters, Martin Harrison 1973 Barrie & Jenkins, London Pl. 36
Burne-Jones: The Paintings, Graphic & Decorative Work
Penelope Marcus 1975 Arts Council of Great Britain p. 89
The Flower Book.
Edward Burne-Jones 1994 Taschen Pl. X
Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer
John Christian, Stephen Wildman 1998 Metropolitan Museum of Art p. 286; pl. 135d
Hidden Burne-Jones, Works on paper by Edward Burne-Jones from Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
2007 Dan Giles, Ltd., London p. 72

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