The Fifth Day of Creation

Method Photogravure
Artist Frederick Hollyer after Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones
Published c.1900
Dimensions Image 170 x 60 mm, Plate 210 x 100 mm, Sheet 234 x 157 mm
Notes 'The Days of Creation', through a series of six panels, portrays the story of Creation as detailed in the first book of Genesis. Each of the panels features a central winged angel, crowned with a flaming finial, which holds a crystal globe that reveals the stages of creation. The first panel of the series represents the division of light and darkness, and the second, the division of water and land. In the third panel, the appearance of plant life is depicted. The fourth panel presents the emergence of the sun, moon, and stars. Symbolised by a flock of birds, the fifth panel represents the appearance of animal life. The final panel references the emergence of human life, with Adam and Eve featured within the globe. As a seventh panel was not included in the series to represent the 'Day of Rest', a seated angel, playing a musical instrument, is illustrated in the final panel.

This print would likely have appeared in a loose sheet folio of the works of the Pre-Raphaelites dating from around 1900.

The series of watercolours from which this set of photogravures were taken were a result of a commission from William Morris, Burne-Jones' close friend and collaborator, for the production of stained glass windows at the Church of Saint Editha at Tamworth in Staffordshire. A set of pencil drawings were produced slightly earlier than the watercolours. Later, the images were to be translated into stained glass windows for the Saint George Chapel, East Window, in the Church of Saint Editha at Tamworth in Staffordshire. A duplicated set of the stained glass windows are featured in the Unitarian Chapel of Harris Manchester College, Oxford. Five of the six watercolours are now held in the collection of the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University. Unfortunately, whilst the complete set were on loan to the dining hall of Dunster House, Harvard University, in the 1970s, the fourth panel was cut out from the frame, stolen, and never recovered.

Frederick Hollyer (1837 - 1933) was a mezzotint engraver and famed photographic reproducer of Victorian paintings. Born in London, Frederick was the son of the line engraver Samuel Hollyer. In his junior years he flirted with engraving, and it was in this practise that he received renown for a series of mezzotints he produced after Edwin Landseer. It was his interest, and subsequent pioneering in the field of photography that defined Hollyer's career. He began by making albumen prints from collodion negatives but then was fiercely active in the development of the platinotype. The method of printing, combined with a dry gelatin plate, as opposed to an emulsified version, results in a very high quality matte finish. The prints display a greater tonal subtlety and formal veracity; they are also far more durable. In the 1870's, Hollyer established a business in photographic reproduction based upon this medium and, under the patronage of Frederick Leighton, specialised in the copying of Pre-Raphaelite painting and drawing. These reproductions were used in books and magazines, and thus contributed hugely to the popularity of the movement. A fact that was acknowledged in Hollyer's obituary by The Times when they wrote that he did as much for the Brotherhood with his prints as John Ruskin did with his pen.

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Bt (1833-1898) was a painter and designer closely associated with the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Burne-Jones met William Morris as an undergraduate of Exeter College, Oxford, whilst studying for a degree in theology. The pair went on to work very closely together on numerous decorative arts projects including stained glass windows, tapestries, and illustrations. Originally intending to become a church minister, Burne-Jones never finished his degree, choosing instead to pursue an artistic career under the influence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Rossetti heavily inspired his early work, but by the 1860's his idiosyncratic style was beginning to develop. His mature work, however different in total effect, is rich in conscious echoes of Botticelli, Mantegna and other Italian masters of the Quattrocento. Thusly, Burne Jones' later paintings of classical and medieval subjects are some of the most iconic of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. He was at the height of his popularity during the 1880's, though his reputation began to decline with the onset of the Impressionists. He was created a baronet in 1894, when he formally hyphenated his name.

Condition: Some minor foxing to sheet.
Framing mounted
Price £45.00
Stock ID 48376

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