Edward Burne-Jones, Love in a tangle, a watercolour
England, AD 1882-98
An image from 'The Flower Book'
This small jewel-like
The scene suggests the story of Ariadne, who gave Theseus a ball of golden thread to unwind as he wandered through a labyrinth in search of the minotaur (a mythological creature, half-man and half-bull). Here she waits anxiously for her lover to follow the thread back out of the maze.
The melancholy title is a colloquial name for a flower (probably either Clematis vitalba or Nigella damascena), which suggested the image of a maze. It may also allude to the disappointing outcome of Ariadne's love: she was abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos.
Burne-Jones delved deeply into classical and medieval legend for subjects for his art, sometimes (as here) using only the barest hint of a narrative as the stimulus for his rich imagination.
S. Wildman and J. Christian, Edward Burne-Jones, Victorian (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1998)
J.A Gere, Pre-Raphaelite drawings in the (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)