OIL PAINTING: Saint George, 1873-1877
The "Saint George" series was commissioned for the dining room of the Hill in 1865. By this time, Foster was acting not only as Burne-Jones' patron, but more importantly as a vocal supporter. Burne-Jones' election the year before, in 1864, as an associate member of the Society of Painters in Water-colors had been controversial. Foster had championed his cause in the decision.
As Foster's art was very naturalistic in approach, it might seem surprising that he would have responded so enthusiastically to Burne-Jones' work. However, their art is equally romantic. Neither artist was interested in reflecting the dramatic changes taking place in industrial England. In fact, each denied it- Burne-Jones by turning back to the Middle Ages, and Foster by escaping into the bucolic world of 18th century Gainsborough.
Burne-Jones began the "Saint George" series, as was typical of his approach, by making loose preparatory sketches, 64 of which are today preserved in the Birmingham Art Museum in England. From this vast array, seven finely detailed, finished drawings were made. Six of this finished series are now in the British Museum. The seven completed paintings, paralleling the travels of Saint George himself, are spread over three continents and four countries.