Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
Portrait of young woman in profile

A light-skinned young woman is seen in profile with her gaze cast downward. She has heavy-lidded eyes, a delicate pointed nose, and a long neck. Her hair is tucked into a twisted gray scarf on her head. Her dress is black with voluminous sleeves. Part of the woman’s white chemise is visible above the notched neckline of her dress. Behind the woman is a shimmering body of water surrounded by reeds and trees under a blue sky.

Gallery Text

Burne-Jones’s daughter Margaret modeled for this painting. The Latin title refers to the Vestal Virgins of Rome, who tended the perpetual fire on the altar of the goddess Vesta. Begun before Margaret’s marriage in 1888, the painting aligns her with these chaste women, suggesting her innocence and purity.

"Flamma Vestalis" remained in England until 1922, when it was purchased by New York–based collector Grenville Winthrop and given a distinctly American frame. This style of frame was designed in the 1880s by eminent architect Stanford White. The design was known as a “U-shaped grille frame” because of the shape of its ornament. Evoking gilded lattice or lace, the grille catches and refracts light so that the painting and frame seem to shimmer. "Flamma Vestalis" is unique in this gallery: it is a British painting in a famously American frame, evidence of the collector’s preference rather than that of the artist.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Edward Burne-Jones, British (Birmingham, England 1833 - 1898 London, England)
Flamma Vestalis
Work Type
19th century
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2130, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Pre–Raphaelites and Their Legacy
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
68 x 46.4 cm (26 3/4 x 18 1/4 in.)
framed: 96.2 x 74.6 x 5.4 cm (37 7/8 x 29 3/8 x 2 1/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: File notes inscription on back: From collection of Sir William Richmond to whom 'twas presented by the artist in exchange for a portrait of Miss Burne-Jones which was begun in 1884 but not completed for a long time. [Back of canvas is covered with a cardboard strainer 7/94 and no inscriptions are visible, 1994.]


Recorded Ownership History
Sir William B. Richmond, by descent (?); to Rear Admiral A. W. Richmond. [Scott & Fowles, New York], sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop, New York, NY, 1922 [via Martin Birnbaum], bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art


The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Publication History

  • New Gallery, Exhibition of the Works of Sir Edward Burne-Jones, exh. cat., New Gallery (London, England, 1898 - 1899), no. 64
  • Paintings and Drawings of the Pre-Raphaelites and their Circle, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1946), no. 28, p. 42
  • David H. Dickason, The Daring Young Men: The Story of the American Pre-Raphaelites, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN, 1953), p. 255
  • Martin Harrison and Bill Waters, Burne-Jones, G. P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY, 1973), p. 193
  • Penelope Fitzgerald, Edward Burne-Jones: A Biography, Michael Joseph, Ltd. (London, England, 1975), pp. 198-199
  • Mark Aronson, "Trial and Error: Further Notes on the Materials and Techniques of the Pre-Raphaelite Painters" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 1986), Unpublished, pp. 1-28 passim
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), pp. 100-101, repr. as no. 63
  • Chikashi Kitazaki and Mina Oya, ed., Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Ueno, 2002), pp. 198-199, cat. #58, color repr.
  • Phillip Prodger, Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography, exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery (London, 2018), p. 167, fig. 29

Exhibition History

  • Paintings and Drawings of the Pre-Raphaelites and their Circle, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/08/1946 - 06/01/1946
  • Pre-Raphaelite and Early French Symbolist Art in the Fogg Collections, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/16/1973 - 02/25/1973
  • The Pre-Raphaelites: Selections from the Permanent Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/04/1980 - 07/15/1980
  • Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 09/14/2002 - 12/08/2002
  • For Students of Art and Lovers of Beauty: Highlights from the Collection of Grenville L. Winthrop, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/16/2004
  • 32Q: 2710 North Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 05/02/2022
  • 32Q: 2130 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/02/2022 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • ReFrame
  • Google Art Project

Related Works

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at