Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt

The Golden Stairs

1880

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 2692 x 1168 mm
frame: 3162 x 1637 x 122 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Lord Battersea 1924
Reference
N04005

Display caption

This painting epitomises Burne-Jones’s interest in investigating a mood rather than telling a story. He deliberately made his pictures enigmatic and the meaning of this painting has provoked much debate. One view is that the 18 women are spirits in an enchanted dream. The painting might also be purely decorative, conveying the idea of endless movement. The underlying idea, popularised in the 1870s by the critic Walter Pater, is that ‘all art constantly aspires to the condition of music’.

Gallery label, November 2016

Audio

The Golden Stairs by Edward Burne-Jones (Differe)

Was Burne-Jones part of the Pre-Raphaelite movement? Curator Alison Smith
Audio

The Golden Stairs by Edward Burne-Jones (Poetry)

How does this painting link to poetry? Curator Alison Smith