SIR PHILIP BURNE-JONES, BT.
(British, 1861 – 1926)
Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones
Oil on canvas
23 x 18 inches
(58.4 x 45.7 cm)
Sale, Christie’s, London, March 3, 1922, lot 46 (with The Tower of Babel);
Sale, Sotheby’s, London, March 29, 1983, lot 157
Private Collection, New York (1983-present)
The New Gallery, 1888
Works by Sir Philip Burne-Jones, Bt., The Dowdeswell Galleries, London, April-May, 1914
“The Pictures of 1888,” Pall Mall Gazette Extra, no. 41 (1888), p. 77ill.
Cosmo Monkhouse, “The New Gallery; II,” The Academy, III, no. 849 (1888). P. 419
Martin Harrison and Bill Waters, Burne-Jones, London, 1973, p. 180
Philip Burne-Jones was the only son of Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones and, like his father, painted from an early age. He was educated at Marlborough and at University College, Oxford, but had little academic success. Philip began to exhibit at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1886 but preferred to show at the New Gallery from its opening two years later, where the present painting first appeared. He produced a few literary pictures at the beginning of his career but specialized in landscapes and portraits. Harrison and Waters have written that Philip “had a talent for portraiture and landscape, and like George Howard, infrequently ventured into imaginative or figure work. Working mostly in gouache or watercolour, once again like Howard, his style could never be confused with his father’s though it approaches it in Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones, which was exhibited at the New Gallery in 1888.”
Philip’s portraits of his father, his uncle Rudyard Kipling, and Sir Edward J. Poynter hang in the National Portrait Gallery, but few of his works are in public collections. His most celebrated painting in his day was The Vampire, an 1897 canvas that was said to inspire a poem by Kipling; its present location is unknown.
Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones is one of the artist’s finest and most evocative paintings. The subject is taken from Ezekiel 37:1-10 (with special reference to 37:2) and is a remarkable portrayal of the Biblical scene. Here Philip follows in the footsteps of his father, with a composition at once mysterious and romantic, and alimited palette here punctuated by the brilliant orange spot of the setting sun. Writing at the time of the New Gallery exhibition, Cosmo Monkhouse described Philip Burne-Jones’s Ezekiel as “the most impressive picture he has yet exhibited.”
When sold in 1922, Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones was paired with another painting by the artist, The Tower of Babel. That work, dated 1889, is at present lost, having last appeared at auction at Sotheby’s, Belgravia, Dec. 6, 1977, lot 100.