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5 THE AVENGING ANGEL OF SAINT CATHERINE 1878

SIR EDWARD COLEY BURNE-JONES, Bt.
1833-1898

A red-haloed angel, with blue wings and a pink-gold robe faces the viewer with head in profile to the right. In each hand the angel bears flames and its left foot is placed upon a section of St. Catherine's wheel in the lower right corner.

 

 


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5 THE AVENGING ANGEL OF SAINT CATHERINE 1878

SIR EDWARD COLEY BURNE-JONES, Bt.
1833-1898

Watercolour heightened with gold paint, 42.5 x 23.5 (16.75 x 9.25). Signed, EBJ (lower right).

Provenance: An inscription, in ink, on the backboard, reads "AVENGING ANGEL/ OF/ SAINT CATHERINE/ E. BURNE JONES/ WATERCOLOUR/ 1-878/ done for Mrs. Coronio": Barbizon House; Cecil French.

Exhibited: Fulham 1967 (13); Fulham 1983 (17).

Literature: Sewter, 1974, II, p.147.

A red-haloed angel, with blue wings and a pink-gold robe faces the viewer with head in profile to the right. In each hand the angel bears flames and its left foot is placed upon a section of St. Catherine's wheel in the lower right corner.

St. Catherine of Alexandria was said to have been martyred by the Roman Emperor Maxentius early in the fourth century. The Emperor devised an instrument of torture, comprising four spiked wheels, on which to break her body. This was destroyed by a heavenly thunderbolt before it could be used. She was subsequently beheaded but the wheel remains her principal symbol. Doubts about her historical existence resulted in her removal from the Calendar of Saints in 1969.

The painting is a smaller, coloured version of Burne-Jones's design for The Angel of Victory, the left hand light of the stained glass for the east window in the south choir aisle of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, commissioned from Morris & Co. in 1878. Three pencil cartoons, for St. Catherine, The Angel of Victory and The Angel of Suffering (each 203 x 66) are at Christ Church.

Burne-Jones had already designed stained glass windows, particu-larly for James Powell and Sons, before the establishment of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. in 1861. After the foundation of the firm, in which he was a partner, he designed exclusively for Morris even after the dissolution of the partnership in 1875.

Aglaia Coronio (1834-1906), for whom this watercolour was painted, was the daughter of Alexander Ionides, an important patron of the Pre-Raphaelites and Morris and Co. She was a confidante of William Morris and a close friend of Burne-Jones. Georgiana Burne-Jones (Memorials, II, p.96) recalled her assist-ance, "his friend Mrs. Coronio, whose perfect taste had helped him a hundred times by finding fabrics and arranging dresses for models". In 1906, severely depressed by the death of her daughter Calliope, she committed suicide.

 

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