OIL PAINTING: The Heart of the Rose, 1889
Sir Edward Burne-Jones's painting, The Heart of the Rose (1889) forms the final portion of a triptych loosely based on Chaucer's legend of the Romaunt of the Rose. The other two paintings include The Pilgrim at the Gate of Idleness (1884), a companion painting to The Heart of the Rose, and Love Leading the Pilgrim (1877-1897), the largest of the three.
The trilogy details the pilgrim's triumph over temptation and struggle to reach his ultimate desire, the rose bush, which essentially represents his elusive love. The Pilgrim at the Gate of Idleness begins the series with the pilgrim encountering the temptation of Idleness, disguised as a charming woman. The pilgrim resists her and subsequently, Love leads him to yet another obstacle -- a briar thicket -- in the next work, Love Leading the Pilgrim. To finish the series, Burne-Jones painted The Heart of the Rose, in which Love finally leads the pilgrim to his desired destination -- a rose bush. In the image, a beautiful maiden sits within the bush, dressed in a long green dress and directly gazing at the viewer, as if posing for a portrait. In the picture's foreground, Love and the Pilgrim stand to the left and right of the Rose and grasp each other's hands across her mid-section. Burne-Jones renders a relatively simple background that consists of a red brick wall and some grass and white flowers. He also suggests a forest both to the left of the picture plane and, to a lesser extent, above the brick wall.