9 de outubro de 2011

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones - The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune - 1875-83
Musée d' Orsay - Paris - France

Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-98) was a British artist and designer. Associated with the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood , he worked closely with William Morris, on a wide range of decorative arts as a founding partner in Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, and Company. Burne-Jones was closely involved in the rejuvenation of the tradition of stained glass art in England. His early paintings show the heavy inspiration of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but by the 1860s Burne-Jones was discovering his own artistic "voice". He studied for a time under Rossetti, sharing his passion for early italian art, which is clearly evident under this painting.
“The Wheel of Fortune” portrays a giant wheel, turned by the Goddess of Fortune. Attached to which are three mortal men, a slave at the top, a king in the middle and a poet below. Burne-Jones, suggesting his allegoric purpose wrote:

"My Fortune's Wheel is a true image and we take our turn at it and are broken upon it".

The foreground takes up almost all of the view, leaving only a small portion free in the upper left corner to show a wall and a tree beneath a grey sky. The Goddess of Fortune towers above the three men. Her heavy clothing and cap, covering most of her body, is in contrast to the almost complete nudity of the mortals. Their faces seem strangely void of expression. Fortuna is gazing down dispassionately and both the slave and king are looking into the distance. Only the poet looks, not at Fortune's face but at her feet, with a mildly pleading air.
The figures are reminiscent of Michelangelo's works, as well as the ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, with their idealized bodies and Fortune's distinctive contrapposto pose. The figure of Fortune bears a resemblance to that Michalangelo's "Delphica Sibyl" at the Sistine Chapel. Burne-Jones considered Michelangelo work "immeasurable" and had copies of his sculptures in the drawing room of his house.
The Wheel of Fortune was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1883 after a very long period of execution, after which the artist suffered from exhaustion for several weeks. It was bought by Arthur Balfour, the future Prime Minister and patron of the artist, who later commisioned him to paint the "Perseus" series of pictures.
On June 1933, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, a nephew of Burne-Jones, officially opened the centenary exhibition, featuring Burne-Jones's drawings and paintings, at the Tate Gallery in London. In his opening speech, at the exhibition, Mr Baldwin expressed what the art of Burne-Jones stood for:

“In my view, what he did for us, was to open, as never had been opened before, magic casements of a land of faery in which he lived throughout his life. It is in that inner world we can cherish in peace.”
Source: Michael Robinson, Wikipedia, net

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