THE AVENGING ANGEL OF SAINT CATHERINE 1878
EDWARD COLEY BURNE-JONES, Bt.
heightened with gold paint, 42.5 x 23.5 (16.75 x 9.25). Signed,
EBJ (lower right).
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.
Fulham 1967 (13); Fulham 1983 (17).
Sewter, 1974, II, p.147.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.