Sibylla Delphica

Edward Burne-Jones, 1833 - 1898

Sibylla Delphica

Edward Burne-Jones 1833 - 1898


Figure of Sibylla Delphica, priestess of Apollo, standing dressed in classical drapery in bright orange, her hair secured in a blue headscarf. She stands facing the viewer, with her head turned to the left, looking at laurel leaves which she holds in her right hand, a stem of the same plant in her left hand. A tripod altar burns behind her, on the left, incense smoke rising high. The scene is set in a temple, with marble floors and doorway behind on the left. In an renaissance style elaborate frame with moulded plaster relief decoration.

Display Label

Gallery text panel In Pursuit of Beauty Late Victorian Art and Design Improving the quality of British art and design had been a concern since the 1850s. The British Empire had expanded into new continents but it was the classical ideal of beauty, based on Ancient Greek and Roman culture that was still considered the model for serious art. The pursuit of beauty was a form of escapism from the mass-production of industrial Britain. As well as looking to the ancient world, artists and designers were delighted and inspired by the arts of Renaissance Italy, the Middle and Far East. Many of the paintings here feature a beautiful woman. Sometimes she is a passive, decorative form, but often she is a dark and brooding femme fatale, a symbol of seduction, deception and destruction. The 'fatal woman' may reflect late Victorian male fears as women campaigned for equal rights and new roles. The emphasis on colour, harmony and rhythm and simplifying the form of an object would become major concerns in the 20th century. They can be seen emerging here in the work of late Victorian artists and designers.

Object Name

Sibylla Delphica

Creators Name

Edward Burne-Jones

Date Created

1886 (circa)


object (object: 152.8cm (60 1/8in)): 152.8cm
frame (frame: cm (in)):
object (object: 60.3cm (23 3/4in)): 60.3cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint

On Display

[G10] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 10
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