Zambaco, Maria

MODEL, SCULPTOR (GREECE)
BORN 29 Apr 1843, London - DIED 14 Jul 1914, Paris
REAL NAME Cassavetti, Marie Terpsithea
GRAVE LOCATION London: West Norwood Cemetery, Norwood High Street, Norwood (square 28, grave 1971 (Greek-Orthodox section))

The greek heiress Maria Kassavetti was not only wealthy but also a ravishing beauty. Together with her cousins Marie Spartali and Aglaia Ionides she modelled for the painters Whistler and Rossetti. They were known as 'The Three Graces' at the time. She frightened off her admirer George du Maurier who stated that was she talented, but also rude an unapproachable.

In 1860 she married the boring Dr. Zambacco with whom she lived in France. They had two children, but the marriage failed and she went to London with her children to live with her mother and become a sculptor.

In 1866 her mother hired Edward Burne-Jones for a painting of her (he had chosen "Cupid finding Psyche") and they fell in love. Burne-Jones often painted her in his studio. In January, 1869 his wife Georgie found a letter of her to him in his clothes and he reluctantly ended the affair. There was a scene in which Maria threathened to kill herself with laudanum and soon the story of their stormy relationship was all over literary London. Possibly there had been a suicide pact followed by a change of mind.

Afterwards Burne-Jones was unhappy in his marriage, allthough his wife Georgie was admired by many. But he couldn't get Maria out of his head and kept painting her as a sorceress or a temptress, for example in "The Beguiling of Merlin". A Diary entry by Jeanette Marshall (the daughter of a well known anatomist) suggests that they had studio's next to each for a while around 1879, but there is no further evidence that their relationship was resumed, alltough they may have met in Paris afterwards.

During the 1880s she studied scupting and was taught by Rodin. She died in Paris in 1914 and was buried in the Greek part of West Nordwood Cemetery. The name on her tomb is Maria Tepsithia Kassavetti.

Related persons
• was painted by Burne-Jones, Edward Coley
• had a relationship with Burne-Jones, Edward Coley
• was pupil to Rodin, Auguste
• was painted by Rossetti, Dante Gabriel
• was a friend of Spartali Stillman, Marie
• is cousin of Spartali Stillman, Marie

Sources
• Wildman, Stephen, John Christian, Edward Burne-Jones 1833-1898, Un maître anglais de l'imaginaire, Réunion des Musées Nationeaux, Paris, 1999
• Flanders, Judith, A Circle of Sisters, Alice Kipling, Georgiana Burne-Jones, Agnes Poynter, and Louisa Baldwin, W.H. Norton & Company, New York, 2001

Images

'Portrait of Maria Zambacco' by Edward Burne-Jones.
(1871)

 

The tomb of Maria Zambaco at West Norwood Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (19 Mar 2006)

 

The tomb of Maria Zambaco at West Norwood Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (19 Mar 2006)

 


Zambelli, Antonio Tomasso Lega

Published: 1 Jan 2006
Last update: 6 Apr 2014