The Village Church, Rottingdean

The Village Church, Rottingdean by Sir Philip Burne-Jones, Bt. 1861-1926. Signed with monogram and dated 1891. Water colour on paper: 9 1/16 x 12 1/2 inches, 23 x 32 cm.

Exhibited: London, New Gallery, 1892, Summer Exhibition; London, Dowdeswell Galleries, April-May 1914, Works by Sir Philip Burne-Jones

Commentary by Hilary Morgan

Philip Burne-Jones's cousin, Rudyard Kipling, commented that Phil 'would be greater if he were stuck on a desert island with nothing but paints and canvas and no society' (Letter to Margaret Mackail, 1889). This, however, referred to the ease with which he was distracted from his painting. Individual works are often very fine, and as his niece, Angela Thirkell, commented, 'he had a genuine gift for landscapes' (Thirkell, 1932).

This watercolour of the low-towered Rottingdean Church is an excellent example of his landscape painting, which is less well-known today than his portraiture. Rottingdean became his father's summer home in 1880, and the church lies almost opposite the family home there, North End House. Philip Burne-Jones's approach to landscape owes little to his father's art, but comparisons might perhaps be drawn with the watercolours of his uncle, Edward John Poynter. Interestingly, Poynter showed a group of watercolours of the Sussex south downs in the previous New Gallery summer exhibition (Athenaeum, 1891).

Related Material


Athenaeum, 1891.

Kipling, Ruyard. "Letter to Margaret Mackail, 11 February, 1889" in Ina Taylor, Victorian Sisters. London: Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 1987.

Morgan, Hilary and Nahum, Peter. Burne-Jones, The Pre-Raphaelites and Their Century. London: Peter Nahum, 1989. Catalogue number 146.

Thirkell, Angela. Three Houses. London: Oxford University Press, 1931.

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Last modified 21 January 2002