Edward Burne-Jones became a founding member of William Morris’s decorative art firm in 1861, where he produced countless designs and illustrations for books, tapestries, ceramic tiles, mosaics and stained glass. In 1862, he traveled to Italy where he was introduced to Botticelli, whose formal patterning profoundly influenced his subsequent development as a painter. His typical subject matter derived from medieval and classical legends charged with symbolism. In fact, he was pre-eminent in the Aesthetic movement in England and the Symbolist movement in Europe. A defining characteristic of Burne-Jones as an artist was his willful blurring of the boundaries between his painting and his decorative work, something quite evident in the conception of Sea-Nymph. Sea-Nymph was conceived as a pendant to another painting, Wood-Nymph, both of which were purchased from the artist shortly after they were painted. They were separated in 1908 and the Wood-Nymph was eventually bequeathed in 1944 to the South African Museum in Cape Town.
(Text courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, CC BY 3.0.)