Thursday, September 27, 2012

Edward Coley Burne-Jones - The Golden Stairs 1880

This painting is an example of Edward Burne-Jones’s interest in investigating a mood rather than telling a story. He deliberately made his pictures enigmatic and the meaning of this painting has provoked much debate. One view is that the eighteen women are spirits in an enchanted dream. The painting might also be purely decorative. The underlying idea, popularised in the 1870s by the critic Walter Pater, is that ‘all the arts aspire to the condition of music’. 

There are 18 women and May's face is 8th from the top, holding the violin. 
Other faces are modelled on Frances Graham, Laura Tennant, Mary Millais and Margaret Burne-Jones. Antonia Caiva, a professional model often used by Ned was used for their bodies.

The canvas is 9 feet high by 4 wide. First exhibited at the Grovesner Gallery, 1880.

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