Letters from Burne-Jones to May and Daphne Gaskell. 1) Album of letter from EB-J to Mrs Gaskell, 2) Album of letters from EB-J to Mrs Gaskell I 3) Album of letters from EB-J to Mrs Gaskell II, 4) Album of illustrated letters from EB-J to Mrs Gaskell, 5) D by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

The second-generation Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones met Helen Mary (May) Gaskell in 1892 and the pair began a close but platonic friendship.


Pencil, pen and ink, on paper
1) 18.6 x 12.2 cm; 2) 25.5 x 19 cm; 3) 20.5 x 19.4 cm; 4) 41.3 x 30.5 cm; 5) 27.8 x 37.3 cm
Art Fund grant:
£50,000 ( Total: £200,000)
Acquired in:
Private collection

They corresponded up to five times a day and May became the recipient of some of the artist’s most intimate letters, many of them illustrated. Burne-Jones also wrote illustrated letters to Gaskell’s young daughter, Daphne. This collection comprises five albums of these remarkable letters, including two containing the illustrated correspondence. The illustrations for May feature a cast of characters, including the artist himself and the fat lady, who undertake a series of adventures. The letters to Daphne in the second illustrated album feature delightful drawings of birds, animals and other creatures of the artist’s own invention. In 1939, May Gaskell bequeathed her collection of Burne-Jones drawings to the Ashmolean. These albums of letters, some unpublished, now join these works alongside the museum’s pre-eminent collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.


Sent by Burne-Jones to Mrs Helen Mary (May) Gaskell and to her daughter, Daphne; Daphne Gaskell; by descent to the current vendor

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Ashmolean Museum Beaumont Street, OXFORD Oxfordshire OX1 2PH 01865 278000 www.ashmolean.org

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