The Golden Stairs (1880)

Burne-Jones, Edward (1833-1898)

The Golden Stairs
Oil on canvas, 269.2 x 116.8 cm
Tate BritainLondon

This painting is an example of Burne-Jones’s interest in investigating a mood rather than telling a story. He deliberately made his pictures mysterious and the meaning of this work has been debated by critics. One suggestion is that the staircase, without visible beginning or end, represents continuous movement. Models for the painting include Frances Graham, daughter of Burne-Jones’s patron William Graham and Mary Gladstone, daughter of British Prime Minister WE Gladstone. Burne-Jones’s daughter, Margaret, is pictured at the top of the stairs. (Tate)