World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Star of Bethlehem (painting)

Article Id: WHEBN0020640181
Reproduction Date:

Title: Star of Bethlehem (painting)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Edward Burne-Jones, Star of Bethlehem, List of paintings by Edward Burne-Jones, Star of Bethlehem (disambiguation), Adoration of the Magi (tapestry)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Star of Bethlehem (painting)

The Star of Bethlehem
Artist Edward Burne-Jones
Year c.1885-1890
Dimensions 260 cm × 390 cm (101 in × 152 in)
Location Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Birmingham

The Star of Bethlehem is a painting in watercolour by Sir Edward Burne-Jones depicting the Adoration of the Magi with an angel holding the star of Bethlehem. It was commissioned by the Corporation of the City of Birmingham for its new Museum and Art Gallery in 1887,[1] two years after Burne-Jones was elected Honorary President of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. At 101 1/8 x 152 inches, The Star of Bethlehem was the largest watercolour of the 19th century.[2] It was completed in 1890[3] and was first exhibited in 1891.

Origin of the composition

In 1886, John Prideaux Lightfoot had approached William Morris and Burne-Jones to create a tapestry as a gift for their alma mater Exeter College, Oxford, suggesting the Adoration of the Magi as a subject.[1] The two quickly agreed. Burne-Jones completed a 26 x 38 inch modello or design in watercolour and bodycolour heightened with gold in 1887. Morris and his assistant John Henry Dearle based the cartoons for the tapestry weavers on Burne-Jones's watercolour, changing the colour scheme and adding background details including the flowering plants characteristic of Dearle's tapestry work. The tapestry was woven by Morris & Co. at Merton Abbey over the next two years and displayed in their London showrooms at Easter 1890 before being presented to Exeter College.[1][4]

The Adoration was ultimately the most commercially successful of all Morris & Co. tapestries. Of the ten versions woven,[5] one is in Eton College Chapel, one in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, one in the Art Gallery of South Australia,[4] and one at Manchester Metropolitan University.[6] The original hangs in the Exeter College Chapel.

The painting

The Birmingham commission gave Burne-Jones an opportunity to revisit his tapestry design as a full-scale painting. The colour palette with its rich blue-greens differs greatly from both the original watercolour modello and the Morris tapestry, and its large size allowed him to add a wealth of fine detail not possible in the tapestry version, especially in the clothing. Burne-Jones worked on a ladder, and wrote "a tiring thing it is physically to do, up my steps and down..."[1] A photograph by Barbara Leighton Sotheby, preserved as a platinum print by Frederick Hollyer, shows Burne-Jones on his ladder in front of the work-in-progress. The Star of Bethlehem was completed in 1890 and exhibited at the New Gallery, London, in the spring of 1891 before being sent on to the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, where it remains.[1]

Burne-Jones used a different pose of the angel holding the star, this time in a warm colour palette, to illustrate the wildflower called Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) in The Flower Book, a collection of watercolours on themes inspired by the names of flowers that he completed between 1882 and 1898.



External links

  • Photograph of Burne-Jones working on The Star of Bethlehem by Barbara Sotheby, in the V&A.
  • tapestry
  • tapestry at the Hermitage Museum
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.