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The Raising of LazarusEnlarge image

The Raising of Lazarus, 1877

Edward Burne-Jones
British, 1833 - 1898
graphite and coloured chalk on ivory wove paper
59.5 x 56.6 cm
Gift of the Dennis T. Lanigan Collection, 2009
National Gallery of Canada (no. 42897)

In 1877 Burne-Jones designed a three-light window for the church of St. John of Beverley, Whatton, Nottinghamshire, with standing figures above and smaller narrative predellas below, as in an Italian Renaissance altar. "The Raising of Lazarus" is the central predella below a standing Christ - for which the artist charged £12 (equivalent of £6,000 today). The composition is based on Giotto's fresco (c. 1305) in the Arena Chapel, Padua, which Burne-Jones had seen in 1862. His drawing shares with Giotto's painting a stylized rocky setting, the position of Christ to the left and the risen Lazarus to the right, the treatment of draperies to evoke pattern and rhythm rather than suggest human form. Burne-Jones' "modern" adaptations include isolating the two protagonists in the foreground so that they balance in scale and importance, and diminishing the scale of the onlookers who wonder at the miracle from a distance. His monochrome cartoons entered Morris & Co.'s stock for future reuse, but because they were all photographed, he could sometimes take back a favourite design for colouring. Such is the case with "The Raising of Lazarus", where the pastel colours were applied at a later date and are unrelated to the colours of glass in the actual window.

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