Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt

The Golden Stairs


Not on display
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 2692 x 1168 mm
frame: 3162 x 1637 x 122 mm
Bequeathed by Lord Battersea 1924

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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

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