|Sir Edward Burne-Jones, The Star of Bethlehem, 1890
(Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK)
Image credit: Wikimedia.
In 1886, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones were commissioned a tapestry for Exeter College, Oxford, with The Adoration of the Magi being offered as a subject. The completed work, after Burne-Jones’s sketch, was presented to the college in 1890 and has been hanging at the Exeter College Chapel since. The Adoration of the Magi was to be the most commercially successful tapestry produced by Morris and Co: over 10 versions were woven and can now been seen all over the world: at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, in South Australia, and at the Manchester Metropolitan University.
Still in 1890, Burne-Jones had received an opportunity to revisit his design as a full-scale painting, The Star of Bethlehem, which has been presented to, and housed at, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. A photograph from Victoria and Albert Museum archives shows the artist walking up and down the ladder with his easel, while working on the watercolour painting. The watercolour differs from the tapestry design primarily in the choice of colours. The subdued reds and gold of the tapestry become the rich blues and green of the painting.
|Exeter College Chapel|
|The Star of Bethlehem
in BMAG’s hall
When I visited Birmingham in December 2008, I had the chance to take a photo of the painting, as it hangs in one of two Burne-Jones’s halls at the Art Gallery (full-size photo). You can compare it with the original tapestry that can be viewed online, in a virtual tour of the Exeter College Chapel. The image on the right is a screengrab taken during the tour.