Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bart., A.R.A., R.W.S. (British, 1833-1898)
Property of a Lady
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bart., A.R.A., R.W.S. (British, 1833-1898)

Paradise, with the Worship of the Holy Lamb

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bart., A.R.A., R.W.S. (British, 1833-1898)
Paradise, with the Worship of the Holy Lamb
pencil, chalk and watercolor, heightened with bodycolor and touches of gold, four on three joined sheets of paper, one on two joined sheets of paper, with overlays, laid on linen
five panels, one 133 ¾ x 22 in. (339.7 x 56 cm.), the others 133 ¾ x 21 in. (339.7 x 53.3 cm.)
Executed circa 1875-1880.
The artist.
His estate sale; Christie's, London, 16 July 1898, lot 58, as Paradise.
with Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, acquired at the above sale.
Robert George Windsor-Clive, Baron Windsor, future first Earl of Plymouth (1857-1923), London and Tardebigge.
Ivor Miles Windsor-Clive, 2nd Earl of Plymouth (1889-1943), his son, by descent.
Other Robert Ivor Windsor-Clive, 3rd Earl of Plymouth (1923-2018), his son, by descent.
His sale; Sotheby's, Belgravia, 19 October 1971, lot 94.
with Leger Galleries, London, acquired at the above sale.
with Hartnoll and Eyre, London, by October 1972.
Anonymous sale; Maître Binoche, Paris, 16 December 1972, lot 18.
Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008) and Pierre Bergé (1930-2017), Paris and Marrakech, acquired at the above sale.
Their sale; Christie's, Paris, 23-25 February 2009, lot 90, as Paradis, avec l'adoration de l'agneau.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
E. Burne-Jones, account book with Morris, 1875 and register from 1875 and 1880 (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge).
'Fine Arts, The Grosvenor Gallery,' The Illustrated London News, London, 8 January 1881, p. 38, as Paradise.
'The Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition (Second Notice),' The Athenaeum, no. 2776, London, 8 January 1881, pp. 61-62, as Paradise.
'Grosvenor Gallery Winter Exhibition,' The Academy, no. 454, London, 15 January 1881, p. 50, as Paradise.
'Grosvenor Gallery - Decoration (First Notice),' The Spectator, no. 2743, London, 22 January 1881, p. 15.
O. von Schleinitz, Burne-Jones, Bielefeld and Leipzig, 1901, pp. 63, 90, with an illustration of the window, fig. 52, as Die Anbetung des Lammes.
A.C. Sewter, The Stained Glass of William Morris and his Circle, New Haven, 1974, vol. 1, fig. 508 (for an illustration of the window), vol. 2, p. 7, as Rivers of Paradise.
London, Grosvenor Gallery, Winter Exhibition, 1881, no. 355, as Paradise.
London, The Fine Art Society, The Aesthetic Movement and the Cult of Japan, 3-27 October 1972, pp. 12-13, no. 4, illustrated, as The Rivers of Life or The Worship of the Lamb.

Lot Essay

These monumental drawings are cartoons for stained glass that Burne-Jones later colored to turn them into independent works of art. The cartoons in their original form were made in April 1875 for the chancel east window in the church of All Hallows at Allerton, East Liverpool (fig. 1). Burne-Jones listed them both in his account book with Morris & Co., the firm responsible for making the window, and in his own work-record for that year ('a great window of Paradise'). After the windows had been executed, the cartoons were returned to him, and their later development is noted in his work-record for 1880 ('colored in wax old design of Paradise').
The window's iconography is based on St John's vision of Heaven as described in the book of Revelation 7:9-17. On a mound stands the Holy Lamb, symbolizing Christ in his sacrificial role. Four rivers, emblematic of the Gospels, issue from the mound, and to the left and right are the four apocalyptic beasts that became the attributes of the Evangelists: the angel of St Matthew, the ox of St Luke, the eagle of St John himself, and the lion of St Mark. In the foreground and lateral panels, angels and surprisingly youthful 'elders' worship the divine presence. As A.C. Sewter observed, 'this remarkable and beautiful design clearly owes a debt for its basic conception to Van Eyck's altarpiece at Ghent' (op. cit., p. 508, fig. 2). Unlike his two closest associates, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris, Burne-Jones never actually saw this famous painting, but he was undoubtedly familiar with it through reproductions, borrowing motifs from it elsewhere.
Burne-Jones was a prolific designer of stained glass throughout his career. For years it provided him with a regular income, but it was never an onerous task. On the contrary, it offered him the perfect outlet for his astonishing powers of invention and love of linear expression. He was an experienced hand even before the foundation of the Morris firm in 1861, and from then on he was Morris's chief supplier of cartoons, assuming full responsibility for them when the original partnership was dissolved in 1875. It has been calculated that between 1872 and 1878, the period of his greatest output, he drew more than 270 cartoons, an average of 39 per year.
A few of Burne-Jones's earliest cartoons are colored, but after 1861 they are nearly all in monochrome, whether sepia wash, charcoal or pencil. The choice of colors for the windows would be left to Morris, Burne-Jones merely supplying the shaded outlines. Since he was much admired for his sense of color as a painter, this practice has often caused surprise. 'Who like him', his friend W. Graham Robertson recalled, 'could have arranged the jeweled splendor of stained glass, fitting the bits of glowing color into their setting of leaden tracery? Yet (a few very early windows) are the only instances in which he attempted to do so.'
Perhaps aware of this anomaly, Burne-Jones did in fact sometimes reclaim his cartoons and color them. A number dating from the 1860s were worked up in bodycolor to form easel pictures, the sepia wash that he currently favored becoming in effect a monochrome underpainting. He returned to the idea in the late 1870s, although now adding color in the mixed media of chalk, watercolor and bodycolor. It is no accident that his stained glass designs were becoming increasingly pictorial at this period, making it logical to turn them into quasi-canvases or murals.
The present Paradise designs are important and magnificent examples of this later phenomenon. Others are an equally colossal Last Judgement (Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, fig. 3), also designed in 1875, for the east window in the church of St. Michael and St. Mary Magdalene at Easthampstead in Berkshire; two powerful compositions, Angeli Laudantes and Angeli Ministrantes (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, fig. 4), developed from cartoons drawn in 1878 for a window in Salisbury Cathedral; and a group of designs (William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, and elsewhere) made in 1880 for the east window of St. Martin's Church, Brampton, in Cumberland. This was a particularly prestigious commission from Burne-Jones's longstanding friend and patron George Howard, Earl of Carlisle, but all the cartoons worked up in this way were special. That is to say, they were not those, often single figures, that Morris used again and again in different locations, but complex, one-off compositions, destined for major windows, that by definition could not be repeated. With the possible exception of the two Angeli in the Fitzwilliam, all the cartoons were colored in 1880, the artist adopting a pale, iridescent palette that bears little relationship to the rich, saturated tones found in the corresponding windows.
Although Burne-Jones had already been paid for the cartoons by Morris (he charged £180 for the Allerton Paradise), he presumably hoped that by coloring them he could turn them to further financial advantage. If so, he was only partially successful. The two Angeli were brought by the Tory politician and future Prime Minister, Arthur Balfour, one of his most devoted patrons, but the Paradise and Last Judgment were still in his studio when he died, even though he had exhibited them at the Grosvenor Gallery in the winter of 1881. Indeed, they had been much admired by the critics, especially the Paradise. The Academy noted its 'wonderful power of expression and skill in drawing', while F. G. Stephens, writing in The Anthenaeum, praised 'the superbly beautiful disposition of the general colour (and) the marvellous variety and harmony of the local tints, ... especially observable in the white robes, the rich verdure, and the scintillations of the spirits' wings ... In these lovely qualities this large picture has no superior in the room.'
Both cartoons appeared in Burne-Jones's first studio sale, held at Christie's only a month after his death in June 1898, and were bought, probably on commission, by Agnew’s. The Last Judgment was given to the Birmingham Art Gallery the same year by two local enthusiasts, the Hon. William Kenrick and J.R. Holliday. Burne-Jones was a native of Birmingham, and this was an early shot in the campaign to make the Art Gallery the great repository of his work that it is today. Meanwhile the Paradise, for which Agnew’s paid 520 guineas, was acquired by another ardent admirer, Lord Windsor, later first Earl of Plymouth.
Born in 1857, Lord Plymouth was a man of enormous wealth and genuine culture. His knowledge of art and architecture brought him the post of Commissioner of Works and a Trusteeship of the National Gallery, and in 1903 he published a study of the painter John Constable, for many years the standard book on the subject. In 1883 he married Alberta Paget, a renowned beauty who shared his artistic interests. They were leading members of the social set know as 'The Souls', a self-conscious aristocratic clique who prided themselves on their devotion to intellectual pursuits as distinct from the hunting, shooting and gambling that obsessed so many of their class.
Burne-Jones was the Souls' favorite artist. They warmed to his intense spirituality, and many of them commissioned or bought his works. However, the quintessential product of this rare accommodation between high society and progressive art was the full-length portrait of Lady Windsor that the artist began in 1893 and exhibited at the New Gallery two years later (private collection, on loan to Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery). In his austere and almost colorless late style, it is a supreme symbolist image, inviting comparison with other great examples of the genre by James McNeill Whistler or Fernand Khnopff.
In the light of this ethereal and enigmatic work, it is not surprising that the Windsors also fell for the Paradise design. The portrait of Lady Windsor was destined for Hewell Grange, a vast neo-Jacobean mansion in Worcestershire that the couple built in the first years of their marriage. Paradise would either have hung there or in one of their two other homes, a London house at 39 Mount Street, Mayfair, and the Elizabethan St. Fagan's Castle near Cardiff, a mellow and beautiful building set in what George Wyndham, another Soul, called 'the enchanted land of Arthurian romance'.
Paradise was later in the collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, hanging in their Paris apartment alongside masterpieces from across the centuries and around the world. Its extraordinary scale and visual power demonstrate Burne-Jones’s mastery of design, medium, and imagination.

(fig. 1): Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones and William Morris, Window depicting the Adoration of the Lamb, 1875-86. All Hallows, Allerton Church, Liverpool. Image courtesy of Laurence Scales.
(fig. 2): Jan and Hubert van Eyck, Het Lam Gods, c. 1430-32. Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent.
(fig. 3): Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, The Last Judgement, 1874-80. Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, UK.
(fig. 4): Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Angeli Ministrantes. The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, UK. © Bridgeman Images.

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