Edward Burne-Jones, Cicely Margaret Horner (1883–1972)

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
Cicely Margaret Horner (1883–1972)
Medium and support
Red and white chalk on paper
Overall height: 65 cm, Overall width: 50 cm
Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)
Catalogue Number
  • Inscribed in lower right: ‘EB-J to FH 1893’


In the summer of 1894, Edward Burne-Jones’s son, Philip (1861–1926), who was commencing his own career as an artist, asked Frances Horner if he might paint a portrait of her daughter, Cicely, ‘the most beautiful child I have ever seen’. He added that it was ‘simply wicked that no record should be made of her during these wonderful years’.1 His father had, however, already made the present drawing of Cicely, which is dated 1893. 

In January 1883 Frances Graham (1854–1940) married Sir John Horner (1842–1927). Their first child, Cicely, was born in November. In her autobiography, Time Remembered (1933), Lady Frances Horner wrote that Cicely ‘entered into her beauty when she entered the world, with her large eyes, and a complexion like Rose Red and Snow White.’2 Edward Burne-Jones was by this time an intimate friend of the family and had known Cicely from birth. According to Lady Horner, when Cicely was young she referred to Burne-Jones as ‘Mr Rosey, as he always brought bunches of moss roses from his garden to the sick room’ where William Graham, Frances’s father, was cared for during his final illness. He died in 1885.2

In the present portrait Cicely is shown looking to her left with her hair hanging down over her shoulders. The features of her hair and gown are recorded in red chalk while her face and the contours of her garment are accented in white chalk. Two years later, in the spring of 1895, Burne-Jones completed an oil portrait of Cicely. As Burne-Jones noted at the time, Frances visited him in London with Cicely, in order to have the portrait painted as a present to her from her husband.4 The portrait, in which she is depicted in a white shift, appears to have remained unfinished.5 In June 1899 John Singer Sargent visited Mells and painted two portraits of Cicely, ‘not very successful ones’, as Frances Horner recalled.6

According to Frances Horner, Cicely’s dream was to marry an actor-manager.7 In the event, in 1908, she was wedded to the Honourable George Lambton, fifth son of George Lambton, 2nd Earl of Durham, and a leading racehorse trainer for the Earl of Derby. On their marriage the couple set up home at Mesnil Warren, Newmarket, which was extended for them in 1925 by Sir Edwin Lutyens, a family friend of the Horners, who was also at that time employed at Mells Manor. Cicely had four children, including Anne (‘Nancy’) Lambton, a distinguished scholar of medieval and Persian history. Cicely, who survived her husband by some twenty-seven years, died at her home in Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, in 1972.

by Devon Cox and Martin Postle


John Christian and William Waters, 'Portrait of Cicely Horner aged 10', Burne- Jones Catalogue Raisonne


  1. Philip Burne-Jones to Frances Horner, 22 June 1894, quoted in Frances Horner, Time Remembered, London: William Heinemann, 1933, p. 93.

  2. Ibid., p. 81.

  3. Ibid., p. 81.

  4. Penelope Fitzgerald, Edward Burne-Jones: A Biography, London: Michael Joseph, 1975, p. 261.

  5. It passed from the ownership of Sir John Horner to Cicely and remained in the possession of her family until 1975, when it was sold at Sotheby’s, Belgravia, 1 July 1975 (37). It was sold once more at Christie’s, London, 9 June 1995 (346).

  6. Horner, 1933, p. 97. For the portraits see Richard Ormond, John Singer Sargent. The Complete Paintings: Portraits of the 1890s, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003, nos 371, 372, pp. 161–3.

  7. Horner, 1933, p. 103.


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