WAG 7650


This is part of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. This composition was used for a headpiece in 'Le Souvenir', a memorandum book published by Suttaby, Evance, Fox, Richardson/London in 1822, on the page for 16th July. Narcissus was a hunter and the son of the river god, Cephissus. Known for his physical beauty, he rejected many admirers. One of the admirers prayed that he also experience the pain of unrequited love, and he subsequently fell in love with his own reflection whilst gazing into a pool. Unable to look away, he eventually perished. The Roman poet Ovid's version of the myth writes that Narcissus was cursed by the goddess of retribution, Nemesis. Others suggest that he was transfixed by his reflection because it reminded him of his beloved dead twin sister. Another version suggests that it was Artemis, goddess of the Moon, hunting, wilderness and chastity, who cursed Narcissus. The two hounds in the left foreground of the image may suggest the presence of Artemis, as she is often depicted with a pack of hunting dogs. This composition was used for a headpiece in 'Le Souvenir: A Pocket Remembrancer', printed by J Cary for Godwin, 16 July 1822.