essay writer
15 Dicembre 2020

Edward Burne-Jones’s The Hours: “Laps of Time”

di Liana De Girolami Cheney

Iconocrazia 18/2020 - "Iconocratic Studies. In memory of Sarah Jordan Lippert" (Vol. 2), Saggi

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

When writing to the poetess Eleanor Lady Leighton Warren (1841–1914), Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898) commented about his accomplishment in completing The Hours:

I have been working very hard in spite of all things, and I hope to finish the “Wheel of Fortune” and the “Hours.” I think you never saw the last—not a big picture, about five feet long—a row of six little women that typify the hours of day from waking to sleep. Their little knees look so funny in a row that wit descended on me from above, and I called them the “laps of time.” Every little lady besides the proper colour of her own frock wears a lining of colour of the hour before her and a sleeve of the hour coming after—so that Mr. Whistler could, if he liked, call it a fugue. (Georgiana Burne-Jones, Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, 2 vols. [London: Macmillan, 1904], 2:127)

In early 1865 and throughout 1870, Burne-Jones was thinking about the depiction of The Hours as indicated by his numerous drawings. Then, twelve years later in 1882, he completed the painting, a masterpiece of coloration and light. Burne-Jones’s The Hours at the Grave Art Gallery in Sheffield, near Manchester, depicts the passing of time from morning till evening through female personifications representing the Female Hours of Waking, Dressing, Working, Feasting, Playing, and Sleeping (Figs. 1 and 1a).[1] In selecting the title “Laps of Time” for this painting, Burne-Jones was referring to a poem composed by his friend and mentor William Morris’s The Lapse of the Year (Fig. 2). Morris (1834–1896) wrote it between 1868 and 1869 for a decorative cycle about the seasons. In 1870, Morris compiled A Book of Verses containing a collection of his poems including The Lapse of the Year. This beautifully decorated manuscript was a gift from Morris to his beloved Georgina Burne-Jones (Burne-Jones’s wife). For this book, Burne-Jones drew decorations in gouache while his assistant, Charles Fairfax Murray (1849–1919) designed miniatures.[2] Burne-Jones, inspired by Morris’s Lapse of the Year, further composed illustrations and paintings for cycles on the seasons, as seen in a drawing at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery representing the four seasons, and in four separate paintings of the seasons now in British private collections.[3]

Fig. 1. Edward Burne-Jones, The Hours, 1860s/1870–1882.
Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, England.
Photo credit: ©Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, England.

Fig. 1a. Edward Burne-Jones, The Hours, 1860s/1870–1882.
 Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, England.
Photo credit: ©Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, England.

Fig. 2. William Morris, The Lapse of the Year, 1868, illustrated poem from William Morris’s Book of Verses (1870).
Photo credit: ©Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries.

This essay studies two aspects of the painting The Hours: the iconography and the meaning of the painting in relation to classical and Italian Renaissance imagery; and the physical and metaphysical conception of time as a cyclical and seasonal transformation as well as a spiritual trajectory of the mind-soul. Burne-Jones composed numerous drawings for The Hours. Most of them are found at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in England (BMA), some sketches are at the Tate Gallery in London, while other studies are located in the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum (RISD) in Providence, RI, USA.[4] His imagery of The Hours was coveted in Europe, as indicated in the printing and publishing of photogravures of The Hours for marketing distribution by the Berlin Photographic Company in 1900 (Fig. 3).[5]

Fig. 3. After Edward Burne-Jones, The Hours, 1870/1882. Photogravure published by Berlin Photographic Company, 1900. Photo credit: ©Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0.

In The Hours, Burne-Jones depicted the passing of time through the coloration of the sky and the movement of the figures. Six females personify the hours of the day. Each figure represents a stage of the day, from morning until evening. Morning time is depicted by a figure waking up and brushing her hair, and the evening or night time is shown by a figure resting and falling asleep. Burne-Jones’s handling of painted light and treatment of colors is harmonized with chiaroscuro and sfumato techniques throughout the painting. He employed a rich palette of hues with vivid colors, radiant values, and light tones, creating a physical visual transformation about a metaphysical conception on the lap or laps of the hours and time. In the painting, the passing of time is arranged in short intervals from the hours of early morning, through noon, and into the sunset, visualizing the comportment of female figures in a landscape setting.

Among the many studies for the composition of The Hours, there is a beautiful drawing in red chalk on paper attributed to Edward Burne-Jones at RISD (No. 31.281). This drawing was a gift from the Estate of Mrs. Gustav Radeke to the museum. In the lower left-hand corner, in a scroll. there is a signature and date: “E. Burne-Jones, 1865” (Fig. 4).[6] The RISD drawing shows a background of hills, a foreground with many clusters of flowers, and a middle ground with six seated female figures, resting on a Renaissance bench or pew. Each Female Hour is attired with a combination of classical and Victorian clothes. Their hairdos vary from a simple coiffure of braided tresses to veiled and flowery crowned headdresses. The figures hold objects associated with their activities during selected moments of the day, e.g., a bowl with water for washing, a spindle for spinning yarn, grapes for making wine, and a psaltery for playing music. These figures represent personifications of Time, and their activities connect the span of time from sunrise until sunset.

Fig. 4. Edward Burne-Jones, attr., The Hours, 1865, drawing. Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI. Photo credit: ©Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI.

Burne-Jones designed an elaborate setting in The Hours. The rectangular composition of the scene is arranged in three levels in a Renaissance ground-floor loggia. The first level or foreground contains a flowering garden of pink, purple, and blue flowers (forget-me-nots, morning glories, primroses, valerians, and violets).[7] Here an extended marble or wooden platform is covered by a simulated oriental carpet and forms the second level. This surface is designed with greenish rectangles containing flowery patterns, which are framed as dividers by orange bands. Above this first platform is a Renaissance stone or marble bench (panca) whose base is decorated with interlaced large and small circles. Seated on this ornate bench are six young maidens—the Female Hours. The third level is the background, which contains a landscape with hills, plains, and villages as well as a skyline with a gradation of light effects and color values according to the hour or time of the day. Each Female Hour or personification of Time is emblematically attired and holds attributes corresponding to the hour or period of time that she embodies.

There is also a color correspondence among the Female Hours, as noted in Burne-Jones’s letter to Lady Leighton Warren: “Every little lady besides the proper colour of her own frock wears a lining of colour of the hour before her and a sleeve of the hour coming after.” This type of color correlation between the atmosphere of the sky and the attire of the Female Hours is observed when comparing the female’s comportment and personification with her corresponding landscape in the background. For example, on the left of the painting, the background shows a morning scene where a sunrise’s pink light permeates into a blue atmospheric sky. This celestial light is captured between mountains and valleys. In the painting, Burne-Jones captured the natural phenomenon of reflected morning light by painting blue clouds and blue mountains; hence orchestrating a visual awakening. This physical state corresponds to the celestial blue attire worn by the Female Hour Waking or Waking Up. Awakened by the morning light of the sunrise, Waking raises her hands to arrange her tresses and also uses them to shield her eyes, like a visor, from the bright light effects of sun rays in an early morning. A drawing study from the 1860s at BMA represents the figure of Waking seated diagonally and partially covering her eyes from a bright light (Fig. 5). Recently, several studies of seated women raising their hands to arrange their hairdo, as seen in the Female Hour Waking in The Hours, have been sold at European auction houses. For example, Burne-Jones’s Seated Woman Arranging her Hair of the 1860s is an attributed small drawing in black chalk and red ochre on slightly nacreous paper, signed on the lower right-hand corner with the initials EBJ, and sold in 2012 in Berlin.[8] A larger drawing illustrating the same composition, but in black chalk and red ochre on slightly textured paper, also signed in the lower right-hand corner with the initials EBJ, was auctioned in 2019, also in Berlin (Figs. 6a and 6b).[9] Another similar drawing in graphite on ivory woven paper of a Seated Woman, dated 1873 and now in a private collection, shows a female figure resting while lifting and placing both hands on her head, a possible study for Waking (Fig. 7).[10]

Fig. 5. Edward Burne-Jones, Study for the Hours, 1860s, drawing. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK. Photo credit: ©Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0.

Fig. 6a. Edward Burne-Jones, Study Seated Woman Arranging her Hair, 1860s, drawing, black chalk and red ochre.
Photo credit: ©Griseback Berlin, Germany;

Fig. 6b. Edward Burne-Jones, Study of a Seated Woman Arranging her Hair, 1860s, drawing, black and red chalks. Photo credit: ©Griseback Berlin, Germany;

Fig. 7. Edward Burne-Jones, Study of a Seated Woman, 1870, drawing, graphite. Photo credit: ©Kevin Noel,

The Female Hour Waking is seated next to the Female Hour Dressing or Washing. A pitcher of water and a large bowl of water are place at Dressing’s feet. The reflections of light in the water bowl and pitcher show Burne-Jones’s remarkable affinity with northern Renaissance paintings in the study of reflective lights applied to details, e.g., beads, chandelier, and mirror in Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini’s Wedding Portraits of 1436, acquired by the National Gallery of London in 1842. Interested and involved in obtaining the best painting for the museum’s collection, Burne-Jones surely studied van Eyck’s painting during his many visits to this museum, as he stated: “I went into the National Gallery and refreshed myself with a look at the pictures … I went again and looked at the Van Eyck.”[11]

The Female Hour Dressing is portrayed as a pensive or day-dreaming maiden. Her attire of copper-rose color covers her blue chemise and reveals a blue sleeve. Dressing’s chemise is decorated with a large central bow at her waist and a light blue scarf around her shoulder. This personification of Time dries her wet hands with a long cloth of gray color. Her brown tresses are protected with a copper-rose veil that matches her dress in color. Behind her, a landscape depicts a glowing morning light, which emerges from the hills to announce the beginning of the day. In the background, the puffy clouds, dissipating into a blue atmospheric tonality, transform into cirrus and stratus clouds. These clouds merge into the golden shimmering light formed by the rays of the rising sun, evoking a warm light that radiates and reflects on the green hills and plains.

Burne-Jones composed several studies for this composition, including draperies of seated figures, now at the BMA. One of these drawings shows his original conception of representing a seated maiden washing her hands while the basin of water rested on her lap, similar to the Female Hour Dressing or Washing in the drawing at the RISD (compare Figs. 4 and 8). But in the painting, Burne-Jones opts to place a glass basin and a ceramic water pitcher at the maiden’s feet, hence suggesting that the washing already had taken place and now was concluded. A drapery study or drawing of 1880 at the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, attributed to Burne-Jones for the Sleeping Beauty cycle, should also be considered a study of drapery for the second hour or Female Hour Dressing or Washing or for the third hour, the Female Hour Working (Fig. 9).

Fig. 8. Edward Burne-Jones, Studies for the Hours, 1860s, drawings. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK. Photo credit: ©Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0.

Fig. 9. Edward Burne-Jones, Study of Drapery, 1860s,
drawing. Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Photo credit: ©Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Unlike the previous Female Hours, Waking and Dressing, who look away from the viewer, the Female Hour Working is frontally placed and directly faces or addresses the viewer. Unveiled Working is dressed in a crimson tunic, continuing the color value of copper and rose of the Female Hour Dressing’s outfit, her adjacent companion. Below her tunic she wears a patterned chemise of greenish color, harmonizing with the green color of the hills behind her. She holds a hand spindle and a drop spindle, traditional attributes for construction of a tapestry.[12] The fibers to be spun are bound to a distaff held in her left hand. The distaff points to a city dwelling or a factory behind her on the top of hill in the landscape. The Female Hour Working’s autocratic gaze reveals the eagerness of her endeavor and her commitment to labor. Her gaze is also contemplative, pondering the fate of labor or laborers (workers).[13] Burne-Jones here combines his aesthetic ideals with Morris’s discourses on labor reforms. In his essay Useful Works versus Useless Toil, Morris commented on labor in this manner: “The reward of labor is life” or:

A man [or a woman] at work, making something which he [she] feels will exist because he [she] is working at it and wills it, is exercising the energies of his [her] mind and soul as well as his [her] body. Memory and imagination help him [her] as he [she] works.[14]

At the BMA, another drawing by Burne-Jones shows a similar image; however, the figure does not address the viewer but instead is concentrating on working the spindle (Fig. 10).

Fig. 10. Edward Burne-Jones, Study for The Hours, 1860s, drawing. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK. Photo credit: ©Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0.

Always interested in experimenting with different types of media, Burne-Jones composed a Study of the Hours: Working on a colored gesso panel (Fig. 11).[15] The composition is of only one Female Hour, Working, who is seated on a Renaissance panca in the middle of a landscape. In the background, midday sunlight permeates the plain, where small villages can be seen. This Female Hour Working wears a crimson himation that covers a shimmering greenish chiton. With a perplexed look, she raises one hand to hold part of a spindle, a distaff, a symbol of labor. Her hand’s gesture is similar to an act of triumph, lifting an endearing object with honor or pride: a flag for a patriot, a brush for a painter, an instrument of work for a laborer, or a spindle for a weaver.

Fig. 11. Edward Burne-Jones, Study for The Hours, 1863, mixed media on a gessoed panel. Private Collection, England. Photo credit: ©

Next to the Female Hour Working, in an elegant attire of an emerald-colored tunic above a crimson chemise and large blue sash scarf, resides the Female Hour Feasting. She is holding on her lap a bowl of fruits, probably figs, while reaching for one fruit with her right hand. Figs were introduced to Britain during Roman times and were cultivated with great enthusiasm until the end of the nineteenth century.[16] Because of the ripe appearance of the figs in the basket and Working’s gentle squeezing gesture, indicating that the fruit is ready to eat, the season depicted is late summer, when figs have matured. The pentimento reveals that Burne-Jones selected figs for the Female Hour Feasting, while in the RISD drawing he chose grapes. In the drawing, the figure of Feasting is crowned with grape leaves and squeezes a bunch of grapes to make wine in a large wine chalice (compare Figs. 1 and 4). Traditionally, grapes are associated with a male figure, a classical allusion to Bacchus, the God of Wine, while figs are usually associated with a female figure, as in the Bible with Eve/Eva (Genesis 2:16–17). Since all of Burne-Jones’s personifications of Time are females, he probably decided to change the type of fruit from grapes to figs to be consistent with traditional or conventional iconographical gender imagery. Or, as a student of classics,[17] Burne-Jones—familiar with paradoxical narratives of Roman legends and the mythology of the gods’ contributions to banquets and cultivation of the earth’s products—preferred to depict a vague meaning about gender’s connections to grapes and figs. Bacchus, for example, gifted the gods not only grapes but also figs at their feasts; and Juno, the Goddess of Fertility, presided over the fig harvest and fig festival during the months of June (Juno) and July.[18] Both figs and grapes are traditionally cultivated in the summer.

In The Hours, the Female Hour Feasting’s concentration is elsewhere. Burne-Jones depicted a languid expression, denoting her dreaming state similar to that of her companion the Female Hour Dressing. Feasting’s tresses are adorned with a braided crimson scarf and crowned with a fine herb garland, probably myrtle. Behind her, in the hills, there is a farmhouse with a pergola. Traditionally, during the summer, this type of farmhouse has an exterior courtyard area covered by a pergola with large climbing fig-vines or grapevines. This natural, simple, and functional setup keeps the area cool while feasting or recreating outdoors in hot summer months. Curiously, Burne-Jones designed a pergola with leaves from fig or grape vines on the right pier where the last Female Hour resides. This Female Hour, Sleeping, is resting her head against the decorated pier.

The landscape behind the Female Hour Feasting has a different coloration compared to her adjacent companion, the Female Hour Working. Warm greens are seen for the clustered trees and painted hills and light blue and white colors for the cumulus clouds. The type of fruit depicted (figs) and the landscape’s coloration mark a time of day and a seasonal period, that is, a late afternoon in the summer.

Between the Female Hour Feasting and her companion, the Female Hour Playing, at their feet rests a closed book with a long, unraveled red ribbon, suggesting that it had been consulted. Playing is beautifully dressed in a rose tunic, which shows the sleeve and undergarment of her ultramarine chemise. Her matching braided blue scarf is decorated with myrtle leaves. A necklace of myrtle also embellishes her neckline, the green plant being an allusion to everlasting love because of its evergreen nature.[19] Playing holds a stringed instrument, a psaltery, and while she plucks the strings with her right hand, her left hand grasps that of her companion, the Female Hour Sleeping. Sleeping is also a personification of Dream or Sleep. The Female Hour Playing embodies an additional personification as well, that of Music. She plays a psaltery or harp, a type of musical instrument associated with King David since biblical times. See, for example, an illuminated page of King David Playing a Psaltery, dated between 1500 and 1550 from a German book of Psalms at the British Museum (MS Harley 2953, fol. 20v), and Fra Angelico’s King David Playing a Psaltery of 1430, a drawing in pen and ink on vellum at the British Museum. Seated on an Italian bench, and in a similar pose as the Female Hour Playing, Fra Angelico’s King David plays music with a psaltery while looking up to heaven for divine inspiration or to praise God for his ability to compose music (compare Figs. 1 and 12).[20] Burne-Jones was probably familiar with this type of imagery, since he loved illuminated manuscripts and often visited the British Museum to see them. He stated: “I go to the British Museum and send for a book that took a lifetime to make, and then forget the world and live in that book for days.”[21] The book displayed at the feet of the Female Hour Playing may be an allusion to a Book of Psalms, a common source employed for the recital or reading of biblical poetry, to be accompanied by music played with a psaltery.[22] Burne-Jones was fascinated with music, not only in performing with a musical instrument but also in physically using them as props for his drawings and paintings, as seen in the Study of a Woman Playing the Cythara of 1880, now at the Statens Museum for Kunst in Denmark; Lament of 1868, now in the William Morris Gallery at Walthamstow; Musician of 1868, now in a private collection both in England; and The Hours.[23]

Fig. 12. Fra Angelico, King David Playing a Psaltery, 1430, drawing on vellum. British Museum, London, England. Photo credit: ©The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA).

When the Female Hour Playing and the Female Hour Sleeping are viewed together, there is an additional allusion to personifications of Time, viz., the personification of Happiness or Friendship/Love. The gesture of holding hands as seen between Playing and Sleeping is traditionally a reference of friendship (concordia).[24] The Female Hour Playing ispainted with attributes of love such as wearing garlands of myrtle, holding hands with her adjacent companion and performing a musical song to ease her companion into a restful sleep and a sweet dreaming state. Curiously, in the drawing at RISD, Burne-Jones decorated the hairdo of Playing with a crown of roses, flowers associated with love (compare Figs. 1 and 4). In 1993, a small colored chalk drawing was sold at Sotheby’s under the title of A Study for a Head of Cupid of 1865.[25] This drawings represents a head in profile crowed with roses of a female figure (not male or Cupid); it was composed at the same time as the RSID drawing (compare Figs. 13 and 4), probably another study for the Female Hour Playing in The Hours.

Fig. 13. Edward Burne-Jones, Study of a Head of Cupid, 1865,
drawing, colored chalks. Private Collection.
Photo credit: ©akg-images, Co., UK; www.akg–

The Female Hour Playing’s gentle expression and faraway gaze shows that she is enthralled with the sound of music lifting her mind and soul as well as playing a lullaby to her adjacent companion, Sleeping.[26] Behind her, the landscape with a sfumato technique depicts a sunset where now the celestial blue clouds now cover the sky, announcing the end of the day and the approaching sunset. The enchanting music has provided a relaxing atmosphere for the Female Hour Sleeping. The magnetic ultramarine blue attire envelops her body. Her head is decorated with a crown of lavender-pink flowers and valerian flowers, alluding to her peaceful state of rest. Burne-Jones composed several drawings for this imagery: a full representation of the figure in a state of slumber at the BMA; and a lovely design in graphite on paper of a Study of a Female Head of 1872, now at the Tate Gallery (Figs. 14 and 15).[27]

Fig. 14. Edward Burne-Jones, Study for the Hours (Sixth Figure, Sleep), 1860s, drawing. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK. Photo credit: ©Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0.

Fig. 15. Edward Burne-Jones, Study for the Hours (Sixth Figure, Sleep), 1860s, drawing, graphite. Tate Gallery, London, England. Photo credit: ©Tate, London. Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND.

The landscape behind the Female Hour Sleeping parallels the state of dormancy with the atmospheric landscape of sfumato blue hills and clouded blue sky. Some petals of the flower have fallen on her bench, leading the viewer’s eyes to the feet of the Female Hour Sleeping. At her feet there is an ancient oil lamp with an almost extinguished flame,[28] referring to a dormant state and the passing of time. The artificial light of the lamp contrasts with the depiction of the natural light subsiding at the end of the day and turning into a beautiful sunset. Next to the Female Hour Sleeping, on the other side of the Renaissance stone bench, there is a cluster of trees—sycamores[29] and birches—through which a pink sunset and early evening light is barely visible by the Female Hours but delightfully perceived by the viewer. The trees stand erect, contrasting with the slumbering pose of the figure. They carry new green foliage, alluding to the fertile season of summer. Burne-Jones contrasted the lifeless stone bench with the fecundity of nature. The constructed Renaissance bench refers to a human-made project recalling a historical past event, while the verdant trees allude to natural changes, e.g., seasonal growth, atmospheric light effects throughout the day, and the passing of the hours in time—hence a cosmic cyclical and eternal recurring of life. The human daily activities, always significant for the individual here and now, are just passing episodes in the spectrum of a lifetime. The cyclical and natural changes of a tree, similar to that of a landscape and a season, also parallels the physical transformations or hourly differences through the day as visualized in the female figures of The Hours or “Laps of Time.”

Ingeniously, Burne-Jones placed his signature and date of the painting perpendicularly, just below the vanishing light of a burning oil lamp and above a cluster of a flowering forget-me-not plant. This visual association is a gentle reflection on the meaning of mortality and immortality. In reference to mortality, the association is a disguised symbolism of a traditional concept about remembrance of one’s transient life or memento mori. In reference to immortality or honorific remembrance, the association focuses on the physical object, the painting containing a date and a signature of its creator, which will historically survive and have longevity for artistic and cultural posterity.

Perhaps among many aspects of life for the viewer to ponder is the nature of sleep. Burne-Jones created a suspension of time—implied by the association of Female Hour Sleeping with the burning oil lamp and the forget-me-not flower—between reality and fantasy, between the known and the unknown, between life and death (sleep being a temporary death).[30] This metaphysical suspension was noted by the British Romantic poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817, in his prose volume Biographia literaria. Coleridge explained that this artistic perception is intended “to produce for the shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.”[31] Burne-Jones may further suggest that the inclusion of his signature and date in the same cluster of objects, oil lamp and flower, provides indelible clues to his artistic pledge. The Hours is a testament to his creativity and achievement that will stand the challenges of time.           

In the creation of The Hours, Burne-Jones relied not only on Morris’s poetical and political sources but also on the classics from his schooling at Oxford.[32] Familiar with ancient mythology, Burne-Jones incorporated in his painting interpretations of these legends, including the Horae/Horai (The Hours) from Greek mythology. They were considered the Goddesses of Time and of the Seasons, as well as children of Zeus and Themis (Hesiod, Theogony, 217–223; 901–905). But in Roman mythology, the Horae were the daughters of Helios, the Sun-God, and Selene, the Moon Goddess.[33] The ancients thought that the Horae were guardians of the gates of Heaven (Mount Olympus) and controllers of the movement of stars and constellations (Homer, Odyssey, xxiv.343; comp. x. 469, xix. 132; Homer, Iliad v.749, viii.393). In the Iliad, Homer considered the Horae personifications of cosmic atmosphere and forces. For Homer, the hours “form and disperse the clouds; govern the seasons and the human life; they personify moments of these forces and therefore create the opportunities for human action.”[34] The Horae regulated Time, which was directly measured by imparting metaphysical order and natural law or justice and indirectly by following the laws of nature and life in the physical world (Hesiod, Theogony, 901ff.; Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library I, 3.1).[35] In classical mythology, the metaphysical (moral) and physical (natural laws) concepts were not distinct (Pindar, Olympian Odes iv, 2; xiii, 6; Orphic Hymn 42).

Burne-Jones assimilated three concepts from the Horae’s attributions as regulators of the metaphysical realm and overseers of the physical realm where order and justice reigned in nature (Odyssey ii, 107; x, 469; xii, 294; xix, 152; xxiv, 141). First, he considered the Horae’s celestial power to keep order in Heaven (transitoriness of stars and constellations). Then, he acknowledged their governance of metaphysical laws in the universe (cyclical formations and rotations). And lastly, he reflected their natural power to supervise justice in the physical realm (time and space, past and present, and day and night) as well as the metaphysical realm. This latter aspect, as noted by the classics, connected Heaven and Earth and encouraged the Horae to promote fertility and life on Earth through the seasons.

Under the political influence of Morris, Burne-Jones also associated the ancient Horae’s ethical laws of imparting order and justice in the universe into an artistic visualization of linear time in The Hours. Here, sequential physical appearances from golden sunrise to reddish sunset, bright days and clouded nights, luminous morning light and dim evening light, are accompanied by human activities and chores from starting a day with the Female Hour Waking and ending at night with the Female Hour Sleeping. But for Burne-Jones, the ability to conceive and paint such a trajectory about the physical laws of nature surpassed political or ethical realms, moving him into a mythical realm of poetry and art. In The Hours, the visual harmony composed with myriads of colors, tapestry designs, and light effects conveyed the suspension of time in a space or realm of fantasy and beauty.

Burne-Jones was fascinated with the natural phenomena of celestial and earthly forces.[36] He studied astronomy and carefully observed nature, as demonstrated in his detailed representations of skyline formations (clouds, sunrise, sunset), and landscape designs (city dwellings, flora, vegetation). Burne-Jones was meticulous in his treatment of forms, his study of the human body and movements, and also the capturing of the human psyche in relation to nature, as seen in The Hours. Insightfully, he associated his painted world with cosmic forces. Artistically, he selected daily and domestic objects as attributes for the personifications of Time. In this manner, he connected his visual studies, his assimilation of disguised symbolisms found in religious painting of the northern Renaissance, and his classical observations in the mythological paintings of the Italian Renaissance.

In his composition of The Hours, Burne-Jones was inspired not only by Renaissance paintings, seen on his many trips to museums in Italy and England, but also by the classical art he saw and studied in London and Oxford. He appropriated the imagery from the classical tradition that was available to him through the British Museum in London as the Elgin marble statues, e.g., Phidias’s seated Deity or Demeter of 438–447 bce from the pedimental area of the Parthenon (Fig. 16).[37] He also was aware of the collection of drawings on the Muses by Pietro Angeletti (1758–1786) (Fig. 17) from the Pio Clementino Museum at the Vatican. The British Museum had acquired these drawings from Angeletti in 1814, which had been part of the prestigious English collection of Peregrine Edward Towneley.[38] Furthermore, from his frequent visits, Burne-Jones was acquainted with the muses in the classical collections of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Vatican Museum.

Fig. 16. Phidias, Deity or Demeter, Parthenon’s Pediment, 447 bce.
British Museum, London, England. Photo credit: author.

Fig. 17. Pietro Angeletti, Statue of Calliope, 1781, drawing, black chalk. After Statue of Calliope (Inv. 312). Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican. British Museum, London, England. Photo credit: ©The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA).

Enthusiasm for assimilating the compositions of Italian Renaissance painters and reproducing their imagery for the delight and study of British painters was encouraged by the Arundel Society (1848–1897) and its members. The society had commissioned Cesare Mariannecci or Mariannecca (1819–1894) to reproduce in watercolor Italian Renaissance frescoes for later transfer in chromolithographic reproductions, e.g., the seated figures of Michelangelo’s Prophet Jeremiah and Delphic Sibyl of 1867, now at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.[39] The British art critic, theorist, and Pre-Raphaelite patron of the arts, John Ruskin (1819–1900), was an influential member of the Arundel Society who also encouraged fellow artists to reproduce Italian Renaissance masters. In 1871, Ruskin requested that Charles Fairfax Murray (1849–1919), an assistant of Burne-Jones, travel to Rome and copy in watercolors Botticelli’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.[40]

From the Italian Renaissance representations of liberal arts, sibyls, allegories of virtues, and personifications of the labors of the months and of the seasons, Burne-Jones assimilated stylistic and symbolic meanings. In The Hours, for example, artistically, in the design of the figures, he appropriated compositional designs, seated poses, treatment of draperies, and figural movements; while symbolically or iconographically, he selected an object as an attribute for the identification of an image to imply an allegorical meaning or an identifiable personification, e.g., figs for the personification of Summer, a season; a psaltery for the personification of Music; a spindle for the personification of Labor or Weaving; and holding hands for the personification of Friendship (concordia). In addition to consulting the reproductions of Italian Renaissance paintings provided by the Arundel Society, Burne-Jones was also inspired by his sojourns to Italy in his visual conceptions. In Perugia, for example, he admired for their sense of nobility Pietro Perugino’s Sibyls of 1500 from the Collegio di Cambio,[41] and in Florence, he studied Botticelli’s and Pollaiuoli’s Virtues at the Galleria degli Uffizi (Fig. 18). During his early schooling in Oxford, he was made aware of the school or studio of Botticelli’s Five Sibyls Seated in Niches: Babylonian, Libyan, Delphic, Cummean, and Erythraean (Picta Sibillarum) of 1500, now in the Christ Church Picture Gallery at the University of Oxford, a gift from the Collection of Fox-Strangways in 1828 (Fig. 19).[42] From this series of paintings, Burne-Jones appropriated visual parallels: the seated figures; the female poses; the repetition of figural movements; and the handling of color gradations in the figures’ attire. In The Hours, Burne-Jones embodied these stylistic designs and qualities in the Female Hours: “A row of six little women …Their little knees look so funny in a row…” as described in a letter to Lady Leighton Warren. Further evidence of his appreciation for Italian Renaissance masters can be seen in his making not only drawings but also paintings after them, e.g., Fra Filippo Lippi’s Seven Saints of 1450, now at National Gallery in London; Burne-Jones’s copy is now at the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico (Figs. 20a and 20b).

Fig. 18. Sandro Botticelli and Pollaiuoli Brothers, Theological and Cardinal Virtues, 1470s. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Photo credit:

Fig. 19. Sandro Botticelli (school), Five Sibyls Seated in Niches, 1480s. Christ Church Picture Gallery, University of Oxford, UK. Photo credit: ©Christ Church Picture Gallery, University of Oxford, UK.

Fig. 20a Fra Filippo Lippi, Seven Saints, 1450. National Gallery, London, England. Photo credit: ©

Fig. 20b. Edward Burne-Jones, after Lippi, Seven Saints, 1860s.
Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico. Photo credit: author.

Burne-Jones may have visually addressed other types of traditional allegorical themes, such as the allegory of the five senses associated with the seasons and human desires. This type of imagery was skillfully captured in the art of northern European engravers during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the 1860s and 1870s, the British Museum had acquired engravings by Crispijn de Passe after Martin Vos and Hendrik Goltzius on the Five Senses, which were probably familiar to Burne-Jones as a result of his frequent visit to the museum.[43] In The Hours, Burne-Jones visually promoted the five senses, e.g., hearing (Female Hour Playing), seeing (Female Hour Waking), smelling (Female Hour Feasting), tasting (Female Hour Feasting), and touching (Female Hours Dressing, Sleeping, and Working).

Inspired by these artistic compositions for his own personifications of Time, the labors of the months, the four seasons, the seven liberal arts, the allegories of the virtues, and the representations of the five senses as well as by their metaphysical signification, Burne-Jones combined in The Hours cosmic and visual polemics about the force of nature and its transformation. The paragone for him was between capturing in a painting the physical world of colors, light, and shapes and the metaphysical dialogue about beauty, nature, and time. He strove to address the dilemma about the suspension of time and the human desire to apprehend and understand these notions.[44] Perhaps one of the reasons it took him twelve years to complete this painting was his attempt to comprehend this human dilemma and visualize it in The Hours.

Burne-Jones composed other drawings with the personification of Time between 1863 and 1865, likewise fusing classical and Renaissance symbolisms in their representations. These drawings (one at the BMA and another recently auctioned at Sotheby’s) depict seated figures similar to the Female Hours but holding a specific attribute associated with measurable time—an hourglass and a rod—which are devices used to measure linear time, not metaphysical conceits about the suspension of time (Figs. 21 and 22).[45] The hourglass, a symbol of running time, as sand moves from one glass container to another, refers to the transitory nature of human life, the cycle of life and death. But the design of the hourglass where sand flows to create full or empty areas also allows for the sand to flow between upper and lower regions, and top to bottom spaces. These functions and their revertabilities allude to an analogy between the transitional flow between the celestial and terrestrial realms.[46] The connection of terrestrial measurability related to the hourglass and the rod originated in ancient times. The employment of the rod was popularized by the Romans as a surveyor’s instrument to measure the path ploughed by an ox; and in the Bible, Ezekiel (40:2–3) refers to the rod as a linear measurement device for the construction of a temple, a city, and a gate. Although both drawings were studies for The Hours, having similar composition, figure type, and held attributes—rod and hourglass—the Birmingham’s pencil drawing lacks the bright coloration found in the Sotheby’s study. This latter drawing is designed with colored chalk of orange for the tunic of the personification of Time, cream color background for the setting with additional small green squares at top, which frame the head of the figure. It has been suggested that Burne-Jones added these colors at a later date to compose a small individual or solo picture.[47] The drawing is signed with the initials EBJ.In 1992, it was part of Jan Krugier Collection in Geneva but now is in a private collection (Fig. 22).[48] Burne-Jones’s The Hours encapsulates a series of paragoni extending from the metaphysical to the physical realm; fantasy versus reality; life versus death, time versus space; and seeing versus dreaming; that is, mythical human creativity reveals an ability to capture the natural phenomena of light and color in a painting. Also included in these puzzling conceits is the philosophical dilemma about the cyclical formation of nature, the limitation of human existence, and the passing of time. But alas, for Burne-Jones it is the creation of a beautiful painting that merits eternal suspension in time. The Hours ponders issues such as whether the mundane daily chores of human existence parallel the cyclical time of nature. Whether the human physical senses of hearing, tasting, touching, and seeing and the daily actions of washing, dressing, working, playing, and sleeping override the spiritual sentiments of friendship or the mental forces for creating beauty and fantasy. Burne-Jones answers and clarifies for the viewer his artistic and philosophical position in his letter to the poetess Lady Leighton Warren, “wit descended on me from above.” Here he is implying a conception for the creation of a work of art, a type of divine inspiration, that is a Platonic furor poeticus.[49] This poetic frenzy is a creative force that allows transformation of a metaphysical conceit into a physical myriad of colors, lines, and forms; hence a painting. And Burne-Jones continued to further explain what is a painting for him in a letter to his good companion Morris: “A beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be—in a light better than any light that ever shone—in a land no one can define, or remember, only desire;”[50] as visualized in The Hours*.

* This essay is to honor the memory of Prof. Sarah Jordan Lippert (1975–2009). I presented this paper at the last conference that she organized for the Society of Paragone Studies with the Association of Textual Scholarship in Art History (ATSAH) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on 8 November 2019.

Fig. 21. Edward Burne-Jones, Study for the Hours, 1860s, drawing.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK.
Photo credit: ©Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0.

Fig. 22. Edward Burne-Jones, Time, 1870, drawing, colored chalks.
 Private Collection. Photo credit: ©Sotheby’s London, December 10, 1994.

[1] I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Liz Waring, Curator of Visual Arts, Museums Sheffield, UK, for her invaluable assistance and permission to reproduce the image of Burne-Jones’s The Hours (Gallery Accession Number VIS.13). The painting is oil on canvas, the dimensions with the frame are 1187 x 120 cm. Burne-Jones signed and dated the painting in the lower right-hand corner among the bed of flowers as “EBJ 1882.” The painting was a gift to the museum from the Graves Family in 1935. Previously, Burne-Jones’s The Hours was owned by John Francis Austen, Esq. In 1931, the Trustees of the estate of the late John Francis Austen, Capel Manor of Horsmonden at Kent, UK, sold it to Christie’s London. The painting was auctioned by Christie’s on 10 July 1931, Lot 46, and was purchased by the Graves family.

[2] Some of the ornaments for Morris’s book have also been attributed to George Wardle, a draughtsman in the Morris & Company Firm. The beautiful manuscript is decorated with floral patterns and borders, including titles and initials in gilt, with blue, green, red, and yellow colorations throughout, and a delicate penmanship in brown ink. It is now in the National Art Library of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (MSL/1953/131). In 1980, Roy Strong, the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, with Joyce Irene Whalley, Keeper of the Library, edited and published a facsimile with Scolar Press of London. A facsimile copy is now part of the Special Book Collection of the University of Maryland. I want to express my gratitude to Amber Marie Kohl, Head of the Literature & Rare Books Collection, Special Collections and University Archives of the University of Maryland at College Park, for granting me permission to reproduce the page-image of William Morris’s Lapse of the Year. See also Peter Faulkner and Peter Preston, William Morris: Centenary Essays (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1999), p. 143. William Morris’s poem, The Lapse of the Year of 1868, reads:

Spring: Am I too soft of heart
Much to speak ere I depart
Ask the Summer tide to prove
The abundance of my love.
Summer: looked for long am I
Much shall change or ere I die
Prithee take it not amiss
Though I weary thee with bliss!
Laden Autumn here I stand
Weak of heart and worn of hand,
Speak the word that sets me free,
Nought but rest seems good to me.
Ah, shall Winter mend your case
Set your teeth the wind to face
Beat the snow down, tread the frost,
All is gained when all is lost.

[3] For image of the seasons’ photogravure, see–1898–paintings-ca-1900/a/6138–97060 (accessed 10 July 2020). For the individual paintings of the Seasons, see at the Roy Miles Gallery in London;;;; and Winter (accessed 10 July 2020).

[4] John Christian, “Fame at Home and Abroad,” in Edward Burne-Jones, Victorian Artist-dreamer, ed. S. Wildman, J. Christian, J.A. Crawford, and L.D. Cars (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998), p. 196.

[5] I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Linda Spurdle, Digital Development Manager of the Birmingham Museums Trust and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for permitting me to reproduce their images of Edward Burne-Jones’s works in this essay.

[6] My special gratitude to the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, for allowing to reproduce the image of the drawing in this essay.

[7] The symbolism of the flowers is connected with the activities of each personification, e.g., pink primroses are associated with health, purity, and love. The violet symbolizes dreams and spiritual enlightenment, while valerian assists in falling fast asleep. See (accessed 10 July 2020). See also J.H. Ingram, Flora Symbolica; or, The Language and Sentiment of Flowers. Including Floral Poetry, Original and Selected (London: F.W. Warne, 1869); Frederic Shoberl, The Language of Flowers with Illustrative Poetry; to Which Are Now Added the Calendar of Flowers and the Dial of Flowers (London: Lea and Blanchard, 1834/1848); and Robert Tyas, Flowers and Heraldry; or, Floral Emblems and Heraldic Figures, Combined to Express Pure Sentiments, Kind Feelings, and Excellent Principles, in a Manner at Once Simple, Elegant, and Beautiful (London: Houlston and Stoneman, 1851).

[8] For the sale of these drawings and dates, see Grisebach Auction House in Berlin,, sales on 27 January 2012 and 25 November 2025, Lot 306. I am grateful for the permission to use the images.

[9] For the sale of this drawing, see Grisebach Auction House in Berlin,, sales on 29 May 2019, Lot 218. I am grateful for the permission to use the image.

[10] A special gratitude to Kevin Noel of Agefootstock for permitting me to use the image (Image Code: MPN-240713). In the lower right-hand corner, there is an inscription in black ink, dated “Feb. 1873” with initials “Esq E.B.J.” Perhaps this note was added later.

[11] Georgiana Burne-Jones, Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, 2 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1904), 2:125 and esp. 189, on his study of Van Eyck’s colors, shades, and placement of object in the foreground of the painting. Hereafter cited as GBJ, Memorials.

[12] Hans Bierdermann, Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons and the Meaning Behind Them (New York: Meridian Books, 1994), p. 317. These weaving instruments are also associated with the Fates in Fairy Tales.

[13] Bierdermann, Dictionary of Symbolism, p. 317. In medieval iconography, the spindle was a symbol of the contemplative life.

[14] William Morris, “The Reward of Labor—A Dialogue 2,” transcribed by Ted Crawford, Commonweal, 3, no. 72 (28 May 1877), pp. 170–171.

[15] This study originally belonged to the daughter of Burne-Jones, Margaret MacKail (1866–1953), who gifted it to her daughter, Angela Margaret Thirkell (1890–1966), and then to her son, Graham Campbell McInnes (1912–1970). Recently it was auctioned at Christie’s London in Lot 13, 12 November 2018, and now is in a private collection.

[16] Clive Seem, A Short History of Fig Growing in Britain, 2010, (accessed 5 July 2020); James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art (New York: Avalon Publishing, 1974), p. 219.

[17] GBJ, Memorials, 1:70; Penelope Fitzgerald, Edward Burne-Jones (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1989), pp. 24–26.

[18] In Roman legends, the association of the gods with figs is complex and confusing. A persistent legend connects Juno, the Goddess of Fertility, with Juno Caprotina, an ancient Roman slave and heroine. She was a devotee of Juno, the Goddess of Fertility, and appropriated her name for protection. During one of the many wars between the Romans and the Latins (650 bce–338 bce), the Latins laid siege to Rome. In order to achieve freedom, the Romans negotiated to provide sexual services for the Latin soldiers. The slave Juno offered herself to assist the Romans. After wild merrymaking in the Latins’ camp, Juno escaped to alert the Romans about the Latins’ precise combat area. She climbed on a fig tree and ignited one of the branches, which produced a fire, hence providing a warning sign to the Romans (Plutarch Camillus 33; Macrobius Saturnalia 1.11, 35–40).

[19] See Hall, Dictionary, p. 219.

[20] GBJ, Memorials, 1:48, for Burne-Jones’s admiration for Fra Angelo: “I quite hated painting when I was little … until I saw Rossetti’s work and Fra Angelico.”

[21] GBJ, Memorials, 2:279, for the comment on the illuminated manuscripts or books. For other comments on visiting the museum, see 2:47: “Tomorrow I will rest and go down to the Museum [British Museum] to look at coins and antique things and comfort my heart.” See also 2:58.

[22] Hall, Dictionary, p. 225.

[23] Burne-Jones’s son, Philip, collected his father’s musical instruments as props for the paintings. See Liana De Girolami Cheney, “Edward Burne-Jones’s Art and Music: A Chant of Love,” The Journal of Arts and Humanities, 4, no. 9 (October 2015), pp. 46–61; online at (accessed 15 July 2020). Also, see the recent auction of a watercolor by Edward Burne-Jones, A Musician, where a solo figure while standing behind a parapet plays music with a psaltery; see (accessed 10 July 2020).

[24] Andrea Alciato, Emblem 39, Concordia, in Emblemata (Padua: Petro Paulo Tozzi, 1621). For the image, see (accessed 10 July 2020).

[25] Edward Burne-Jones, Study for a Head of Cupid, 1865, colored chalk, 20 x 18cm. Sotheby’s London, Lot 193, 3/11/93.

[26] Hyun-Ah Kim, “‘Music of the Soul’ (animae musica): Marsilio Ficino and the Revival of musica humana in Renaissance Neoplatonism,” Taylor and Francis Online (19 June 2017):122–34 (accessed 10 July 2020).

[27] The Tate Gallery acquired this drawing (A00070) by Lord Duveen in 1925.

[28] In visiting the British Museum, Burne-Jones saw the rich collection of ceramic Roman oil lamps. GBJ, Memorials, 1:47 and 58. For images, see (accessed 10 July 2020).

[29] The sycamore tree (Ficus sycamorus or sycamore fig tree) is a symbol of security and protection, because of its sturdy cellulose, as well as longevity, because of its endurance through time. See Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, A Dictionary of Symbols (London: Blackwell, 1994), p. 961. The traditional meanings of the sycamore tree are interwoven between natural and cosmic associations: its growth and function. According to Egyptian mythology, the sycamore tree was called “the wood of life” because its hardy trunk was used to make coffins, providing an eternal voyage for the soul of the dead. In addition, it was considered a sacred tree to the Mother Goddess Hathor; hence the tree’s connection to immortality, rebirth, and the Spring season. See Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols, p. 168. Furthermore, symbolically, the tree rooted in the earth with its vertical growth provided an axial conduit between Earth and Heaven. See J.E. Cirlot, Dictionary of Symbols (New York: Philosophical Library, 1962), p. 329.

[30] In The Practical Use of Dream-Analysis (1934), Carl Jung noted: “The dream is specifically the utterance of the unconscious. Just as the psyche has a diurnal side, which we call consciousness, so also it has a nocturnal side, which we call the unconscious, a psychic activity that we apprehend as dreamlike fantasy.” See Jung, The Practice of Psychotherapy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), Section CW 16, “The Practical Use of Dream-Analysis,” p. 317.

[31] Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia literaria, chap. 14, in Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia literaria (1817), ed. Nigel Leask (London: Dent, 1997). Burne-Jones will visualize this concept in his Sleeping Beauty cycle.

[32] GBJ, Memorials, 1:70; Fitzgerald, Edward Burne-Jones, pp. 24–26.

[33] William Smith, ed., Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (London: Murray, 1849/1853; Taylor, Walton, and Maberly, 1870), entry for the Hours.

[34] Cirlot, Dictionary of Symbols, p. 145.

[35] The term “natural justice” or “natural law” is explained in terms of Aristotle (384–322 bce) as just nature or natural (Nicomachean Ethics V.7). See Tony Burns, “Aristotle and Natural Law,” History of Political Thought, 19, no. 2 (Summer 1998), pp. 142–166.

[36] Liana De Girolami Cheney, “Edward Burne-Jones’s The Planets: Musical Spheres and Visions of a Benevolent Cosmos,” Journal of Literature and Art Studies, 7, no. 7 (July 2017), pp. 1–57.

[37] GBJ, Memorials, 2:263: Burne-Jones thought Phidias’s sculpture to be the “bar of mystery” … [creating] “godlike beauty, strength, majesty” [in his work] and “they [the sculptures] suggest that wisdom is godlike.”

[38] See–5006–1770 (accessed 10 July 2020).

[39] The Arundel Society, “The Fresco-Paintings of Italy,” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 88, no. 540 (October 1860), pp. 458–471, here 458–461; David B. Elliott, Charles Fairfax Murray: The Unknown Pre-Raphaelite (NewCastle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2000), p. 41. For the image of the Michelangelo’s Delphic Sibyl, see (accessed 11 July 2020).

[40] Giuliana Pieri, The Influence of Pre-Raphaelitism on Fin de Siècle Italy (London: Maney Publishing, 2007), p. 36; Joanna Smalcerz, Smuggling the Renaissance: The Illicit Export of Artworks (Leiden: Brill, 2020), p. 212.

[41] Fitzgerald, Edward Burne-Jones, p. 138.

[42] Liana De Girolami Cheney, “Edward Burne-Jones’ Interpretation of Botticelli’s Female Imagery: Paragone and Rinascita,” in Liana De Girolami Cheney, Edward Burne-Jones’ Mythical Paintings: The Pygmalion of the Pre-Raphaelite Painters (London: Peter Lang, 2014), pp. 5–10; Henk Jan de Jonge, “The Sibyls in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries or Ficino, Castellio and “The Ancient Theology,” Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance, 78, no. 1 (2016), pp. 7–21.

[43] For the images on Golztius, see–0711–1860,1861,1862, and 1863 (accessed 10 July 2020); and for the images on Marten de Vos, see–0612–2106 and–10 (accessed July 10, 2020).

[44] See Henri Bergson, The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics (1941; New York: Dover Publications, 2010), pp. 165–168.

[45] See J.C. Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols (London: Thames and Hudson, 1978), p. 140 for the rod as a measuring device and a symbol of time.

[46] Chevalier and Gheerbrant, A Dictionary of Symbols, 528–529. See Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols, p. 86, where he notes that in Christian art, the hourglass is also a symbol of inversion for the cardinal virtue of Temperance, as depicted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the cycle of Allegory of Good Government of 1338, in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. For image see (accessed 10 July 2020). Likewise, in Renaissance art of the fifteenth century, the personification of Temperance is usually depicted as a figure pouring water from one vessel into another or pouring wine into water, alluding to moderation as depicted in Piero Pollaiuolo’s Temperance of 1470, now at the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence—in this text as Fig. 18.

[47] Philip Rylands, ed., The Timeless Eye: Master Drawings from the Jan and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection (Berlin: G+H Verlag, 1999), exhibition catalogue, p. 397.

[48] See Edward Burne-Jones’s Time of 1865 from the website of Sotheby’s London, Lot 2, on December 10, 2014,–2.pdf (accessed 10 July 2020).

[49] Michael J.B. Allen, “Poetic Madness,” in Allen, The Platonism of Marsilio Ficino (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), pp. 41–61; Wouter J. Hanegraaff, “The Platonic Frenzies in Ficino” (, pp. 553–567, esp. 559–562, on “Soul Therapy” (accessed 10 July 2020).

[50] David Cecil, Visionary and Dreamer: Two Poetic Painters, Samuel Palmer and Edward Burne-Jones (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), p. 143, quoting from a letter Burne-Jones wrote to William Morris.

Liana De Girolami Cheney

Emerita Professor of Art History at UMASS Lowell. President of the Association for Textual Scholarship in Art History. Visiting scholar in Art History at SIELAE, University of Coruña, Spain.

More Posts

Category: Iconocrazia 18/2020 - "Iconocratic Studies. In memory of Sarah Jordan Lippert" (Vol. 2), Saggi | RSS 2.0 Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

No Comments

Comments are closed.