Studies of a Group of Three Women, 'The Hesperides'

Edward Burne-Jonesc.1865 or c.1880s

William Morris Gallery

William Morris Gallery
Walthamstow, London, United Kingdom

This sketch. which may depict the daughters of Hesperus, keepers of the Tree of Gilden Apples in Greek mythology, has an unusually animated character. There are echoes of William Blake - whose work was especially admired by Rossetti and whose biography was written in the 1860s by Swinburne, both friends of Burne-Jones - in the figures' streaming hair and outstretched, gesturing hands.

The drawing may be connected with the projected series of illustrations to William Morris's cycle of poems 'The Earthly Paradise' (eventually published unillustrated 1868-70) of which one of the tales, 'The Golden Apples', is a re-working of the classical legend of Hercules's voyage to the land of Hesperus to steal the fruit of the Tree of Golden Apples, guarded by a serpent and the daughters of Hesperus. There is however, a somewhat similar drawing in a mid-1880s sketchbook at the British Museum, so the present drawing may well be related to a later, unidentified project.


  • Title: Studies of a Group of Three Women, 'The Hesperides'
  • Creator: Edward Burne-Jones
  • Date Created: c.1865 or c.1880s
  • Type: drawing
  • Rights: © William Morris Gallery, London Borough of Waltham Forest
  • Physical Dimensions: 22 x 21 cm
  • Object Number: D221
  • Medium: graphite on paper
  • Credit line: WMG purchase, 1954

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