“I rose up in the silent night; I made my dagger sharp and bright”

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, English, 1833 - 1898

Made in England, Europe

c. 1859-1860

Pen and black ink with scratching out over graphite on wove paper

Sheet: 5 x 5 3/4 inches (12.7 x 14.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Alice Newton Osborn Fund, 1991

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This drawing illustrates a stanza from a short poem of 1833 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, entitled "The Sisters." The medieval costumes and interior setting reflect the pre-Raphaelite taste for art of that period and enhance the intense emotion of the poet's Gothic tale.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Edward Coley Burne-Jones was a second-generation member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which had been founded by English painters and poets in 1848 to promote a return to the innocence and honesty that they found in Italian art before the time of Raphael (1483-1520). Pre-Raphaelite artists favored Romantic literary and poetic themes, which they rendered with graphic clarity and in minute detail. Often they made small finished drawings like this one for presentation to their friends. Burne-Jones's drawing is based on a quotation from Alfred Lord Tennyson's "The Sisters," a romantic ballad about a young woman's vengeful murder of her sister's lover. Treating the tragic tale as a somber meditation on the act of murder rather than as a narrative, Burne-Jones evokes the style of early Renaissance drawings through his precise penwork and his compressed, planar arrangement of figures and setting, as well as through his use of period costumes and furnishings. Innis Howe Shoemaker, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 227.