Burges escritoire

William Burges, 1827 - 1888

Burges escritoire

William Burges 1827 - 1888


Painted wood escritoire with brass fittings and ceramic tiles. The architectural design influenced by French Gothic styles with its gabled roof and arched recess. Painted decoration includes two central allegorical figures representing Historia (history) and Poesia (poetry and five men representing the five occupations in medieval society: a peasant (Rusticu), a knight, king and bishop, and mercator (a merchant). The cabinet also deals with the passing of time, featuring a boy with his tutor (left hand side), an adolescent, a man in the prime of life (virilitas) and an old man. The mounted clock has the Latin inscription "The clock warns of the passing of time, let everything that is written beneath it, Be an offering to the peace of God"

Display Label

Gallery text panel The Pre-Raphaelites in their Time Britain's first and best-known radical art movement emerged from within the Royal Academy in 1848. Its original members were rebellious art students who were disillusioned with contemporary practice. They looked back to Italian art before Raphael, seeing the pre-1500 period as one of great sincerity. They called themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In an age of rapid industrial and urban expansion, Pre-Raphaelite artists like Rossetti, Hunt and Millais, and pioneering design reformers such as William Morris, sought a return to pre-industrial values of art and design in truth to nature and materials, and good workmanship. In addition, the arts of the Middle Ages and Middle East were important sources of stylistic inspiration. The Bible, literature and contemporary life were preferred over subjects derived from classical mythology. The Brotherhood also rejected contrived studio lighting and took canvases outside to paint directly from nature. Although attempting to convey exactly what they saw, they created a heightened reality of dream-like intensity with minute details and bright, dazzling colours. Their art was a new kind of history painting for a new age.

Object Name

Burges escritoire

Creators Name

William Burges

Date Created

1865 - 1867


Whole: 257.8cm

accession number


Place of creation



On Display

[G7] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 7
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