19th Century European Paintings Gallery Level 2, NGV International
Baronne Madeleine Deslandes (1866–1929) was an accomplished novelist who moved in literary and artistic circles in Paris. She was hostess of a busy salon that attracted many artists, poets and composers, such as Gabriel Fauré and Oscar Wilde. The Baronne perceived herself as something of a visionary; and Burne-Jones has made reference to this self-awareness by placing a laurel tree (a traditional emblem of prophecy) behind her, and a crystal ball on her lap. This may also account for the formal qualities of this work – the rather rigid pose of the sitter and her inwardly reflective expression.