In the painting The Beguiling of Merlin, we see another version of the subject of the magician Merlin succumbing to the charms of the sorceress Nimue. However, this depiction of the Arthurian story shows how Edward Burne-Jones has developed a more mature and distinctive style - this is especially evident when one compares this painting to Merlin and Nimue, an earlier work by the artist on the same topic.
Indeed, Burne-Jones has perfected a decorative technique that allows him to communicate a sense of claustrophobia, almost suffocation, with Merlin and Nimue surrounded by a mass of writhing tree trunks and white flowers. This effect of suffocation expressively suggests the fate that was soon to befall the hapless Merlin - in the legend, he would be captured by a spell cast by the treacherous woman who had so seduced him. Note that here, as in the previous painting (Merlin and Nimue), Nimue holds a book, probably meant to symbolize her prowess as an enchantress (a skill, incidentally, which she had mastered under Merlin's guidance).
Compare and contrast this painting to the work Merlin and Nimue, also by Edward Burne-Jones.
Subtitled "The Life and Works of Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)", this book by Christopher Wood explores one of the most fascinating artists of the Nineteenth century. In chapters devoted to the relationship between Burne-Jones and Rossetti, the Aesthetic Movement, and Fame, we learn about this compelling and talented painter.
This lovely book by Andrea Rose captures the essence of Pre-Raphaelite art using a series of images from several artists.