Friday, June 17, 2016

Edward Burne-Jones's Art, in The Legend of the Briar Rose, inspired by the story of Sleeping Beauty, with artist's studies and footnotes

The Legend of Briar Rose is the title of a series of paintings by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones which were completed between 1885 and 1890. The four original paintings – The Briar Wood, The Council Chamber, The Garden Court and The Rose Bower – and an additional ten adjoining panels, are located at Buscot Park in Oxfordshire, England; illustrating the story of Sleeping Beauty.

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Briar Wood" from the "Legend of Briar Rose"
Buscot Park, Oxfordshire

The painting depicts the discovery of the sleeping soldiers by a Knight. In their slumber they have become completed entwined by the barbed thorns of the Briar rose

Inscription:
"The fateful slumber floats and flows
About the tangle of the rose;
But lo! the fated hand and heart
To rend the slumberous curse apart!

Burne-Jones drew his inspiration for the Briar Rose cycle from the 'Sleeping Beauty' fairy-tale, which had been retold in the eighteenth century by Charles Perrault in his Contes du Temps Passé and by Tennyson in his 1842 poem Day Dream.  Burne-Jones chose to focus on a single moment from the famous story - when the brave prince, having battle through the briar wood, first comes upon the bewitched court and the princess he is to awaken with a kiss. 

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Briar Wood" from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Photogravure
16 5/16 × 32 9/16 in. (41.5 × 82.7 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

After they were exhibited to great acclaim at Agnew’s London gallery in 1890, a set of luxurious photogravures was produced at one-third the scale of the originals, using a technique that combines photography and etching.  More

 Burne-Jones carefully composed the series so that the eye passes naturally from the prince standing on the left in the first scene to the object of his quest, the sleeping princess, on the right of the final canvas.  Yet there is no narrative progression in the cycle, for Burne-Jones' primary concern was to create a hermetic world far from the problems of the modern world and to suggest a mood of languor.  

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Council Chamber" from the "Legend of Briar Rose"
Buscot Park, Oxfordshire

The painting shows the scene in the Council chamber. The members of the council sleep, as does the King who is slumped on his throne. Under the draped curtains and through the window further soldiers can be seen sleeping.

Inscription:
"The threat of war, the hope of peace,
The Kingdoms peril and increase
Sleep on, and bide the latter day
When Fate shall take her chain away."

He did this through the lazy arabesques of the briars, the abandoned poses of the sleeping figures, the shallow perspective, the intense but modulated colours and the verses inscribed beneath, which were written by William Morris expressly to be read in conjunction with the paintings.  The Briar Rose cycle is among the greatest achievements of Victorian painting, but it belongs more properly to a wider European tradition of enigmatic symbolism, which stretches from Giorgione's pastoral scenes to Klimt's Beethoven frieze. More

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Council Chamber" from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Photogravure
42 x 77.5 cm. (16.5 x 30.5 in.)

Sleeping Beauty: At the christening of a king and queen's long-wished-for child, seven good fairies are invited to be godmothers to the infant princess. The fairies attend the banquet at the palace. Each fairy is presented with a golden plate and drinking cups adorned with jewels. Soon after, an old fairy enters the palace and is seated with a plate of fine china and a crystal drinking glass. This old fairy is overlooked because she has been within a tower for many years and everyone had believed her to be deceased. Six of the other seven fairies then offer their gifts of beauty, wit, grace, dance, song, and goodness to the infant princess. The evil fairy is very angry about having been forgotten, and as her gift, enchants the infant princess so that she will one day prick her finger on a spindle of a spinning wheel and die. The seventh fairy, who hasn't yet given her gift, attempts to reverse the evil fairy's curse. However, she can only do so partially. Instead of dying, the Princess will fall into a deep sleep for 100 years and be awakened by a kiss from a king's son.

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose"
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

The painting shows the weavers having fallen asleep at their loom. The walls of the castle form the backdrop to the painting as do arches of roses.

Inscription:
"The maiden pleasance of the land
Knoweth no stir of voice or hand,
No cup the sleeping waters fill,
The restless shuttle lieth still."

The King orders that every spindle and spinning wheel in the kingdom to be destroyed, to try to save his daughter from the terrible curse. Fifteen or sixteen years pass and one day, when the king and queen are away, the Princess wanders through the palace rooms and comes upon an old woman, spinning with her spindle. The princess, who has never seen anyone spin before, asks the old woman if she can try the spinning wheel. The curse is fulfilled as the princess pricks her finger on the spindle and instantly falls into a deep sleep. The old woman cries for help and attempts are made to revive the princess. The king attributes this to fate and has the Princess carried to the finest room in the palace and placed upon a bed of gold and silver embroidered fabric. 

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Photogravure
42 x 84 cm. (16.5 x 33.1 in.)

The king and queen kiss their daughter goodbye and depart, proclaiming the entrance to be forbidden. The good fairy who altered the evil prophecy is summoned. Having great powers of foresight, the fairy sees that the Princess will awaken to distress when she finds herself alone, so the fairy puts everyone in the castle to sleep. The fairy also summons a forest of trees, brambles and thorns that spring up around the castle, shielding it from the outside world and preventing anyone from disturbing the Princess.

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study

A hundred years pass and a prince from another family spies the hidden castle during a hunting expedition. His attendants tell him differing stories regarding the castle until an old man recounts his father's words: within the castle lies a beautiful princess who is doomed to sleep for a hundred years until a king's son comes and awakens her. 

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

The prince then braves the tall trees, brambles and thorns which part at his approach, and enters the castle. He passes the sleeping castle folk and comes across the chamber where the Princess lies asleep on the bed. Struck by the radiant beauty before him, he falls on his knees before her. The enchantment comes to an end by a kiss and the princess awakens and converses with the prince for a long time. Meanwhile, the rest of the castle awakens and go about their business. The prince and princess are later married by the chaplain in the castle chapel.

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

After wedding the Princess, in secret, the Prince continues to visit her and she bears him two children, Aurore (Dawn) and Jour (Day), unbeknown to his mother, who is of an ogre lineage. When the time comes for the Prince to ascend the throne, he brings his wife, children, and the talabutte ("Count of the Mount").

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

The Ogress Queen Mother sends the young Queen and the children to a house secluded in the woods and directs her cook to prepare the boy with Sauce Robert for dinner. The kind-hearted cook substitutes a lamb for the boy, which satisfies the Queen Mother.

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

She then demands the girl, but the cook this time substitutes a young goat, which also satisfies the Queen Mother. When the Ogress demands that he serve up the young Queen, the latter offers to slit her throat so that she may join the children that she imagines are dead. 

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

While the Queen Mother is satisfied with a hind prepared with Sauce Robert in place of the young Queen, there is a tearful secret reunion of the Queen and her children. However, the Queen Mother soon discovers the cook’s trick and she prepares a tub in the courtyard filled with vipers and other noxious creatures. 

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

The King returns in the nick of time and the Ogress, her true nature having been exposed, throws herself into the tub and is fully consumed. The King, young Queen, and children then live happily ever after. More

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

Giambattista Basile's Sleeping Beauty: In Giambattista Basile's version of Sleeping Beauty, the Sleeping Beauty is named Talia. By asking wise men and astrologers to predict her future after her birth, her father who is a great lord learns that Talia will be in danger from a splinter of flax. The splinter later causes what appears to be Talia's death; however, it is later learned that it is a long, deep sleep. 

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

Unlike the version of Sleeping Beauty known today, Basile's version consists of a more gruesome plot. After the Sleeping Beauty named Talia falls into deep sleep, she is seated on a velvet throne and her father, to forget his misery of what he thinks is her death, closes the doors and abandons the house forever. 

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Garden Court"  from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

One day, while a king is walking by, one of his falcons flies into the house. The king knocks, hoping to be let in by someone, but no one answers and he decides to climb in with a ladder. He finds Talia alive but unconscious, and after crying aloud that he is unable to wake her, he carries her to a bed and rapes her. Afterwards, he leaves her in the bed and goes back to his kingdom. Though Talia is unconscious, she gives birth to twins — one of whom keeps sucking her fingers.

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Rose Bower" from the "Legend of Briar Rose"
Buscot Park, Oxfordshire

The sleeping beauty lies on her bed surrounded by her slumbering attendants. The rose is seen encircling the drapery in the background

Inscription:
Here lies the hoarded love, the key
To all the treasure that shall be;
Come fated hand the gift to take
And smite this sleeping world awake."

Talia awakens because the twin has sucked out the flax that was stuck deep in Talia's finger. When she wakes up, she discovers that she is a mother and has no idea what happened to her. One day, the king decides he wants to go see Talia again. He goes back to the palace to find her awake and a mother to his twins. He informs her of who he is, what has happened, and they end up bonding. After a few days, the king has to leave to go back to his realm, but promises Talia that he will return to take her to his kingdom.

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Rose Bower" from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Photogravure
16 5/16 × 32 9/16 in. (41.5 × 82.7 cm)

When he arrives back in his kingdom, his wife hears him saying "Talia, Sun, and Moon" in his sleep. She bribes and threatens the king's secretary to tell her what is going on. After the queen learns the truth, she pretends she is the king and writes to Talia asking her to send the twins because he wants to see them. Talia sends her twins to the "king" and the queen tells the cook to kill the twins and make dishes out of them. She wants to feed the king his children; instead, the cook takes the twins to his wife and hides them. 

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Rose Bower" from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

He then cooks two lambs and serves them as if they were the twins. Every time the king mentions how good the food is, the queen replies, "Eat, eat, you are eating of your own." Later, the queen invites Talia to the kingdom and is going to burn her alive, but the king appears and finds out what’s going on with his children and Talia. He then orders that his wife be burned along with those who betrayed him. Since the cook actually did not obey the queen, the king thanks the cook for saving his children by giving him rewards. The story ends with the king marrying Talia and living happily ever after. More

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Rose Bower" from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

Giambattista Basile (1566 – 23 February 1632) was a Neapolitan poet, courtier, and fairy tale collector. Born in Giugliano to a Neapolitan middle-class family, Basile was a courtier and soldier to various Italian princes, including the doge of Venice. According to Benedetto Croce he was born in 1575, while other sources have February 1566. In Venice he began to write poetry. Later he returned to Naples to serve as a courtier under the patronage of Don Marino II Caracciolo, prince of Avellino, to whom he dedicated his idyll L’Aretusa (1618). By the time of his death he had reached the rank of "count" Conte di Torrone.

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898)
"The Rose Bower" from the "Legend of Briar Rose", 1892
Study, Detail

He is chiefly remembered for writing the collection of Neapolitan fairy tales titled Lo cunto de li cunti overo lo trattenemiento de peccerille (Neapolitan for "The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones"), also known as Il Pentamerone published posthumously in two volumes by his sister Adriana in Naples, Italy in 1634 and 1636 under the pseudonym Gian Alesio Abbatutis. It later became known as the Pentamerone. Although neglected for some time, the work received a great deal of attention after the Brothers Grimm praised it highly as the first national collection of fairy tales. Many of these fairy tales are the oldest known variants in existence. They include the earliest known versions of Rapunzel and Cinderella.

Giambattista Basile spent much time in the courts of the nobles of the kingdom of Naples; tales of Pentamerone are set in the woods and castles of the Basilicata, in particular the city of Acerenza. More

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet ARA (28 August 1833 – 17 June 1898) was a British artist and designer closely associated with the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Burne-Jones was also closely involved in the rejuvenation of the tradition of stained glass art in Britain. Burne-Jones's early paintings show the heavy inspiration of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but by the 1860s Burne-Jones was discovering his own artistic "voice". In 1877, he was persuaded to show eight oil paintings at the Grosvenor Gallery. The timing was right, and he was taken up as a herald and star of the new Aesthetic Movement.

In addition to painting and stained glass, Burne-Jones worked in a variety of crafts; including designing ceramic tiles, jewellery, tapestries, mosaics and book illustration, most famously designing woodcuts for the Kelmscott Press's Chaucer in 1896. More

Acknowledgement: ArtMagick, Wikipedia


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