The Council Chamber
Date: 1872-1892
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 49 1/4 × 105 5/8 in. (125.1 × 268.3 cm) frame: 75 x 126 in. (190.5 x 320 cm)
Credit Line: Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935
Object Number: 1935-3
About: Edward Burne-Jones moved away from the earlier medieval subjects that first drew him to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and instead embraced the ideology of the aesthetic period. He strove to create an art that was above all about beauty. In this he was strongly influenced by Whistler’s philosophy of “art for art’s sake.” The Council Chamber represents the second scene in the Briar Rose series, a project that occupied Burne-Jones for more than 30 years. The series was based on the story of “Sleeping Beauty,” retold during the Victorian period by Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) in his poem “The Day-Dream.” The manner of execution, in pale pastel palette and dry brush with a fresco-like technique, is meant to convey an escapist, dreamy fantasy world. Bodies are draped languorously, one over the other, in a sleep that takes them away from the harsh realities of waking life, and serves as a metaphor for the absorbed viewing of aestheticism.
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