Edward Burne-Jones’ The Days of Creation: A Celestial Utopia

Authors

  • Liana De Girolami Cheney Professor of Art HIstory President of ATSAH (Association for Textual Scholarship in Art History)

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18533/journal.v3i8.484

Keywords:

Creation, Utopia, Angels, Beauty, Symbolism

Abstract

Edward Burne-Jones’ cycle of The Days of Creation of 1870-66(Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Museums, Cambridge, MA) was highly praised and elegantly described by Oscar Wilde: “The picture is divided into six compartments, each representing a day in the Creation of the World, under the symbol of an angel holding a crystal globe, within which is shown the work of a day.” This essay examines how Burne-Jones visualized an unusual celestial creation where angels holding magical spheres unveil the divine manifestation for the creation of a terrestrial realm. His The Days of Creation is an aesthetic culmination of the artistic power of invention, imitation and creation of beauty. Burne-Jones borrows the divine concept of world creation to formulate his own artist creation. Selecting God’s week of creation, he empowers a daily angel to manifest the beauty and power of divine creation. Ultimately, Burne-Jones creates a cosmic utopia, a mythical heavenly and natural realm, where angels design a world of beauty to be emulated not only by the artist, but also by most of all by the viewer. 

References

Athenaeum Journal, London, 1899. Bell, Malcolm. Sir Edward Burne-Jones, A Record and Review. London: G. Bell, 1901-1903.

Burne-Jones, Georgiana. Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones. 2 vols. London: Macmillan, 1904.

Christian, John. “Painter-Designer or Designer-Painter,” in The Journal of Stained Glass, Burne-Jones Special

Issue, vol. XXXV (2011), 22-27

Harrison, Martin and Bill Waters, Burne-Jones, London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1979.

Lutchmansingh, Larry D. “Fantasy and Arrested Desire in Edward Burne-Jones’ Briar Rose Series,” in Marcia Pointon, ed., Pre-Raphaelites Re-viewed. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989.

Parry, Linda. “Coronio, Aglaia,” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, online.ed 2010.

Pointon, Marcia, ed., Pre-Raphaelites Re-viewed. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989. Sewter, Charles. The Stained Glass of William Morris and His Circle. A Catalogue. London: Yale University Press, 1975.

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Published

2014-09-02

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