The following two lots are watercolour and chalk studies for the East Window of All Saints church in Cambridge, built by the English Gothic Revival architect, George Frederick Bodley. All Saints is situated in Jesus Lane, opposite Jesus College for which the artist was to design some of his greatest windows in the following decade. All Saints was constructed between 1863 and 1870, and the full window scheme was produced by Morris & Co. in 1866. However, several of the individual figures had been designed earlier in the 1860s for different churches. Twelve out of the twenty figures were designed by Burne-Jones himself, nine of which were original designs. Of the residual figures, four were designed by Ford Madox Brown, all of them initially created for other churches. The remaining four were conceived by William Morris. Burne-Jones charged four guineas each for most of the cartoons, the only exceptions being the figures of Adam and Eve in the top tier, which cost the parish another guinea apiece. This may have been because the employment of nude models was involved.
The following two studies are full length vertical compositions for the figures of St Agnes and St Dorothy, who can both be found in the lowest row in the East Window, closest to the congregation. The window's lowest tier represents five female saints noted for their rejection of matrimony. St Agnes is second from the left; the others, from left to right, are saints Barbara, Radegunda, Dorothy and Catherine of Alexandria. The complete East Window design shows Christ Enthroned (also designed by Burne-Jones) above a chorus of angels flanked by Adam and Eve, with seventeen saints, leaders and biblical figures below.
St Agnes (lot 107) was designed specifically for this window in 1866, and she is easily recognisable due to her attributes of the lamb she holds in her arms, indicative of her innocence, and the palm branch which signifies her as a martyr. St Dorothy is a lesser known saint. Part of her story is that she met a mysterious child on the way to her martyrdom, and they are depicted here, reaching for her hand with their angelic wings clearly visible. She is also depicted with a sword in her right hand, the instrument of her execution.
Burne-Jones was commissioned to render his designs as cartoons with transferable outlines, so the inclusion here of the backgrounds are, as Luke Farey describes, ‘intriguingly superfluous’ since in the finished stained glass panels the saints are both surrounded with textual and floral ornamentation (L. Farey, Visions and Visionaries: Visions and Imaginings in Blake, Burne-Jones, Allen Ginsberg, John Latham and other masters, Llandysul, 2018, p. 48). The presence of the more developed backgrounds are thus suggestive that Burne-Jones added them for his own pleasure, conceiving the studies as works of art in their own right, and not simply as decorative designs.