Sunday Morning — Victoriana of the Week

Burne-Jones revisited favorite themes (Briar Rose, Days of Creation) throughout his life.   Jenny, William Morris's older daughter who was 15 at the time the series was completed, posed for some of the angels. The last of the Angels of Creation was completed in 1876, the same year that Jenny's life was changed forever when her health began to deteriorate as she developed epilepsy. Jenny and her father were very close; Jenny had just passed her Cambridge Local examinations and would most likely have attended one of the women's colleges at either Oxford or Cambridge. *The Fourth Day was cut from its frame during a dinner party in Dunster House at Harvard University in 1970 where the entire series on loan from the Fogg Art Museum. It has never been recovered. The fourth angel is derived from black and white platinotypes done by Frederick Hollyer at the end of the nineteenth century, 1934 photos from the Harvard Art Museums archives, and extrapolated from the description of Oscar Wilde and other critics of the day. Initial work on the fourth angel was done by Kara Fraser, with final work done, if there is such a thing, by Christine Norstrand.

“The Days of Creation,” by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

These six paintings are called “The Days of Creation.”   The artist was Sir Edward Burne-Jones.

The first painting contains a single angel, and then the number of angels increases by one with each day, until there are six angels in the final picture.   Jenny Morris, William Morris’ 15-year-old  daughter, was the model for some of the angels.

If you embiggen the pictures, you might notice that the painting for the Fourth Day  looks slightly off—it’s a bit less clearly the work of Burne-Jones than the rest of the cycle.  That’s because Burne-Jones didn’t paint it.

The original painting of the Fourth Day was stolen—cut from its frame during a dinner party at Harvard in 1970, when the series was on loan from Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum.   It has never been recovered.   What you see now is a reconstruction, done by Kara Fraser and Christine Norstrand.

The paintings are still at the Fogg Art Museum.

Here’s a larger version of the first and last Days in the series:

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