Phyllis and Demophoön
314 x 700 • 83 KB

Greek legends tell how Phyllis, queen of Thrace, fell in love with Demophoön king of Melos, the son of Theseus and Phaedra, who visits her court en route for Athens after the Trojan War, where he had hidden inside the legendary Trojan Horse. He left the court, but when he failed to keep his promise to return within a month, she committed suicide, whereupon Athena, taking pity on her, turned her into an almond tree. Eventually, Demophoön returned to Thrace and, discovering what had happened, embraced the tree, which immediately burst into blossom.

This picture caused a scandal when it was first exhibited due to the nudity of the figures. The female model for this painting was Maria Zambaco, the mistress of Burne-Jones. Demopho?epresents Burne-Jones himself, struggling to free himself from his forgiving former lover. As if to add emphasis to his turbulent affair, he took from Ovid the phrase, 'Tell me what I have done, except to love unwisely', and appended it to the picture.

Burne-Jones painted a second version, entitled

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  • Owner/Location: Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery  (England - Birmingham)
    Dates: 1870
    Artist age:Approximately 37 years old.
    Dimensions: Unknown
    Medium: Painting - watercolor
    Entered by: Member chris_mccormick on 02 November 2001.
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