The Prioress's Tale
Date: 1869-1898
Medium: Watercolor with gouache on paper laid down on linen
Dimensions: 40 1/2 × 24 1/4 in. (102.9 × 61.6 cm) frame: 47 1/2 × 31 1/2 in. (120.7 × 80 cm)
Credit Line: Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935
Object Number: 1935-41
About: The medieval setting and English origin of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—a series of stories told by pilgrims as they travel from London to Canterbury Cathedral—made this text a particular favorite within the Pre-Raphaelite circle. “The Prioress’ Tale” recounts the gruesome murder of a young boy. His throat was slit while singing the Virgin Mary’s praises. His voice was miraculously restored when the Virgin placed a grain of corn on his tongue. Burne-Jones places what critic John Ruskin referred to as the “beautiful circumstance” of the story in the immediate foreground, while relegating the more distasteful element of the boy’s capture to the background.
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