The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart is dedicating a monographic exhibition to the oeuvre of the important Victorian painter Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898), the first on this artist’s work ever to be presented in Germany.
Myths, legends and sagas come to life in his splendid narrative cycles which, as the focus of the show, will lure visitors into magical worlds. The tale of Sleeping Beauty, the saga of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the myth of the demigod Perseus who beheaded the horrible Gorgon Medusa and liberated Princess Andromeda from the clutches of a sea monster: it was not only in large-scale paintings and tapestries that Burne-Jones depicted these and other stories. Literary motifs of this kind also figure in his designs for stained-glass windows, ceramic tiles, furniture, book illustrations and other three-dimensional and textile works. Each of the new exhibition rooms on the ground floor of the Old Staatsgalerie was devoted to a different sphere of his narrative universe.
Burne-Jones shared his appreciation of the applied arts as an agent unifying art and life with William Morris, one of the fathers of modern design. Not only were the two men close friends throughout their lives; they also worked side by side at Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., founded in 1861.
What is more, William Morris’s successful book The Earthly Paradise – to which the title of the exhibition refers – was one of the most important literary sources of the time from which Burne-Jones drew inspiration for his narrative cycles. The title also characterizes one of the painter’s chief concerns: to counter the harshness of everyday life in the early industrial age with fairy-tale images.
The exhibition is being realized under the sponsorship of the British ambassador to Germany, Sir Michael Arthur. It will be on view at the Kunstmuseum Bern from 19 March to 25 July 2010.
A catalogue (c. 300 pages) with 237 colour- and 54 black and white images has been published by Hatje Cantz.