Three illustrated letters hinting at the artist's struggles with melancholy and commenting on his health. The first illustrated 3 page autograph letter from the artist Philip Burne-Jones [1861-1926], son of Edward Burne-Jones. The letter dated Dec 17th 1912. To 'Dear Harley' [Vaughan Harley [1864-1923] a heart specialist with a practice in Harley Street]. The letter discussing Christmas his correspondent having invited him down. He is waiting to hear about his mother's plans. “I know you'll understand how it is. I don't want to let my mother feel I'm deserting her at all, if htere's any chance of her being in any sort of Xmassy mood.....I've just gulped down my Bovril, swallowed the rice pudding (to be wahsed down by a generous Bismuth etc) and then I shall be ready to face bed'. He signs off with a charming little pen and ink sketch of himself in bed, with his cat on the floor beside him. Harley appears to have been treating him, perhaps for a peptic ulcer considering the application of Bismuth. Very good condition, envelope folds. The second letter (four page letter) is dated 18th Dec. 1912. Again discussing his hopes to come down to Harley's place . [At this time the Harleys lived at Walton Hall Warwickshire where Harley bred prize winning cattle and pigs]. 'Quite on what day it is difficult for me to say at this moment as I am in no mood to go anywhere or do anything till I know a little more about my mother. I have just asked for specialist advice & there is a meeting at my sister's tomorrow evening, until then I feel all my energies are in abeyance.....and when I come I shall come armed with nothing more dangerous than a paint brush (perhaps you'll find that's bad enough) Fearing Death as I do I have a ...reverence for life, and I don't think I've willingly deprived any living thing of that mysterious wonder (barring mosquitoes) for forty years. So the sparrows and rabbits shall have thier brief day...unmolested by me.....I long to see the fat bulls of Bashan [a comic Biblical reference to his host's prize winning bulls] Lord Rayleigh's cows would never let me paint in the filed at Terling [a reference to the physicist Lord Rayleigh's estate at Terling in Essex] used to come round to see what I was doing & looked just about as intelligent as art-critics....' He signs off with an amusing pen and ink sketch of himself painting while a crowd of curious cows gathers around him. The third letter (two pages) addressed to Vaughan's wife dated 27th Dec, 1912 'Though thank you letters are a bit out of fashion I'm sufficiently a Victorian to cling to the custom...I miss the voices of children to which, possibly absence may lend enchantment but the presence of the little things was a great pleasure & kept from the obsession of age, which a slight chill & much inward unhappiness are apt to emphasise. Dear kind friends you made a very happy time for me when most things held little happiness for your friend & I am grateful'. He signs off with a little pen and ink sketch of a country scene. The three warmly affectionate letters to his close friends, The Harleys appear to demonstrate a gently humourous personality, with a tendency to a debilitiating melancholy and with recurrent health issues.
Author Philip Burne Jones