After a five-week, extensively publicised campaign during which people were invited to vote for one of 10 shortlisted works, Burton’s came through convincingly with some 22 per cent of votes cast.
The painting is an unusually large, lustrous watercolour from 1864 and derives from an exceptionally blood-spattered Danish ballad with echoes of the Whitney Houston–Kevin Costner blockbuster, The Bodyguard. The ballad relates how heroine Hellelil falls in love with her bodyguard, Hildebrand. Her disapproving father dispatches her seven brothers to kill him, but the tenacious Hildebrand kills her father and six of her brothers before she intercedes to save the life of the last. Hildebrand dies of his wounds and the heartbroken Hellelil also perishes. Burton imagines not the fearsome bloodshed but the lovers’ tender meeting on a turret stairs.
Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ came second to Burton with 16 per cent, followed by William Leech’s cheerfully sunny A Convent Garden.
via Irish Times