King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid
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Cophetua was an ancient African king who disdained women and was immune to love. However, one day he saw a beggar girl, and, falling instantly in love with her, vowed to make her his queen. Burne-Jones drew upon two sources for the subject:

- An Elizabethan ballad by Richard Johnson - A Song of a Beggar and a King (1612)
- Tennyson's poem - The Beggar Maid

The anemones in the girl's hand symbolize rejected love, while the characters represent Burne-Jones himself and his wife Georgiana; it is said that the head of the king had to be modified to make its model's identity less obvious.

Burne-Jones started working on the painting in about 1861 and laboured at it for another 20 odd years. He once wrote in a letter:

I work daily at Cophetua and his Maid. I torment myself every day - I never learn a bit how to paint. No former work ever helps me - every new picture is a new puzzle and I lose myself and am bewildered - and it's all as it was at the beginning years ago. But I will kill myself or Cophetua shall look like a King and the beggar like a Queen, such as Kings and Queens ought to be.

Burne-Jones finally exhibited the painting in 1884 at the Grosvenor Gallery, since which time it has become one of his most popular and best-known images.

- Commentary from

Owner/Location: Tate Britain - London  (United Kingdom - London)
Dates: 1884
Artist age:Approximately 51 years old.
Dimensions: Height: 293.4 cm (115.51 in.), Width: 135.9 cm (53.5 in.)
Medium: Painting - oil on canvas
Entered by: Member chris_mccormick on 02 November 2001.
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