29 March 2008

A window on beauty...

One of my favorite artists is the Pre-Raphaelite, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones. Born in the city of Birmingham in 1833, he had the requisite bleak childhood experienced by so many artists, which drove him to seek beauty outside his own circumstances. And he found it. His long association with William Morris, and his studies with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, led him to develop his particular artistic style, which in turn had great influence on art, crafts, furniture, and even literature. In fact, it is thought that his paintings had some effect on a young J.R.R. Tolkien, who was growing up in Birmingham at the time.

I have copies of some of his works hanging in my office, which provide me with daily pleasure. One of them is "The Pelican In Her Piety," painted in 1880:

Another intensely beautiful work is "The Star of Bethlehem," of which the original is massive in size. My copy is a small version, but still impressive:

To give some idea of the magnitude of the original, here is a c.1890 photograph of Burne-Jones in his studio, working on "The Star of Bethlehem."

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones died in 1898. As a young man he had considered entering the Anglican ministry, but instead devoted himself to the magnificent artistic gifts which God had given him. He left an impressive body of work, and I am grateful for the beauty it continues to bring to me.