Sir Edward Burne-Jones
British, 1833 - 1898
Portrait of Maria Zambaco
Maria Theresa Zambaco, née Cassavetti, a cousin of Constantine Alexander Ionides, one of Burne-Jones' important patrons, began her affair with Burne-Jones in 1867. It proved stormy and by 23 January 1869 Rossetti was writing to Ford Madox Brown to inform him, 'poor old Ned's affairs have come to a smash all together'. The reference is to a series of incidents following her attempted suicide in the Regent's Canal. Maria and Burne-Jones ran off together, but he was taken ill at Dover, en route for France, after which he returned to his wife, Georgiana. Despite this crisis, the affair continued during the next few years, until Maria finally accepted that he was never going to leave his wife.
This very personal portrait shows Maria with Cupid and his arrow, the message attached to which reads, 'Mary Aetat XXVI August 7th 1870 EBJ pinxit'. She holds a medieval manuscript which contains a minature painting of his Chant d'Amour, emphasizing the ambuiguity of the pleasure and pain of his relationship with the sitter.
(Source: 'Sir Edward Burne-Jones' by Russell Ash)
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