miércoles, 5 de septiembre de 2018


Christa Zaat

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Edward Burne-Jones (British painter and designer) 1833 - 1898
Flora, ca. 1885
gouache and gold paint on paper
152 x 58 cm.
private collection

The present painting reproduces the figure of Flora from the more popular of Burne-Jones's first two tapestry designs for Morris and Co. Morris began to weave tapestries in 1879 and began to produce them commercially in the early 1880's. Burne-Jones designed the two figures of `Flora' and `Pomona' in 1884. These near life-size figures were woven with elaborate acanthus backgrounds designed by William Morris and in 1885 the two tapestries, each 9 foot 10 ½ inches, 3 metres high, were bought by the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. From 1895 the figures were incorporated into small tapestries with floral backgrounds designed by Morris's assistant J.H Dearle. These were 5 foot 5 inches, 165 centimetres high, suitable for domestic interiors. Eleven versions of `Flora' and six versions of `Pomona' are known, and there are versions in Exeter College, Oxford.
The present painting is more than a simple cartoon for tapestry. In her book on Morris's textiles, Linda Parry notes that `Burne-Jones's original drawings were never more than fifteen inches high.' Aymer Vallance noted that although the figures were `grouped and drawn from carefully prepared studies' the cartoons showed `but little minuteness of detail and they (were) only slightly tinted'. Burne-Jones made slight modifications to the hands and faces of photographic enlargements of these cartoons, but the colours and backgrounds were determined by William Morris and his assistant J.H Dearle. It is possible that he may have worked at full scale for his first tapestry cartoon for Morris and Co. but more likely that he conceived the present work, with its elaborate and delicate use of metallic paint, as an independent painting. Burne-Jones used gold to highlight his paintings from the beginning of his career. It appears, for instance, in `Sidonia Von Bork' (1860, Tate Gallery) and later in `Laus Veneris' (1873-8, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle on Tyne). This painting, however, is one of the first examples of the combination of gold and blue, which he often used in drawings of the 1890's.

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