Artibus et Historiae no. 49 (XXV)

2004, ISSN 0391-9064

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LIANA DE GIROLAMI CHENEY - Edward Burne-Jones' Andromeda: Transformation of Historical and Mythological Sources

Sir Edward Burne-Jones' affinity for classical ideals, literature and art is reflected in his mythological paintings, in particular the Perseus and Andromeda series. The objectives of this study are threefold: to reveal Burne-Jones' visual assimilation and aesthetic integration of Neoplatonic ideals in one of his mythological cycles, Perseus and Andromeda, to examine Burne-Jones' adaptation of the classical sources for the Andromeda theme and his awareness of the pictorial tradition for this mythological tale and, to understand Burne-Jones' interpretation of the femme fatale, visually expressed in the image of Andromeda from the Perseus cycle, by focusing on three episodes: The Rock of Doom, The Doom Fulfilled and The Baleful Head of 1875-1888. In his mythological paintings of Andromeda, Burne-Jones embodied an unprecedented strangeness that was bound to strike the imaginations of other artists in the Pre-Raphaelite and Symbolist movements. His paintings provided his contemporaries with examples of classical appropriation in Pre-Raphaelite paintings, along with a systematic use of the great themes of Greek mythology, whose modernized symbolism was adapted to the major preoccupation at the heart of the decadent view of the world - the tragedy of the artist confronted with modern life and contemporary society, the fear of woman and a terrified obsession with sexuality, and the consternation at the mystery of things represented by the myth of Perseus and Andromeda.

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