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Edward Burne-Jones (Edward Burne Jones) (1833-1898)  The Mirror Of Venus  Oil on canvas, 1898  200 x 120 cm (6' 6.74
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Title: The Mirror Of Venus


Edward Burne-Jones (Edward Burne Jones) (1833-1898)
The Mirror Of Venus
Oil on canvas, 1898
200 x 120 cm (6' 6.74" x 3' 11.24")
Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal

The Wedding of Psyche by Edward Burne-Jones presents a striking foil to the very famous Mirror of Venus of about twenty years earlier. Both depict women in a barren landscape: a central female figure, each a standard of beauty, and their attendants. But the mood and psychology of the characters in The Wedding of Psyche shows a drastic in Burne-Jones's style in the twenty years between the two paintings. This is particular striking because of the mythological relation between the two central figures: Venus, jealous of Psyche's beauty, condemned her to marry the most undesirable creature on earth. 

Christopher Wood describes The Mirror of Venus as "purely aesthetic...the picture could equally well have been given a vague allegorical title" - nothing grounds the picture in a particular story. The Wedding of Psyche depicts a mythological event, and a gloomy one at that. While the figures in the Mirror are engrossed in their own reflections, escaping the outside world through their narcissism, the figures of the Wedding march from one side of the frame to the other in morose single-file. Rather than lost in their own reflections, the members of the Wedding party seem to be lost in their own thoughts: the figures look either forward or, in the case of Pscyhe, towards the barren floor. In this way, the barrenness of the background in the Mirror seems to suggest the relative ugliness of the outside world compared with the beauty of the central figures; in the Wedding the blue hues of the hilly background point to a bleak future for Psyche. 

Though the figures in the Wedding are marching forward, they do not show any of the classical contrapposto that Burne-Jones favored so much in his earlier pieces. Burne-Jones reduces their drapery to medieval severity, the figures not only rigid in posture but also flat, almost androgynous, in physical composition. In the Mirror of Venus , Burne-Jones depicts Venus with Botticellian sensuality, her curving figure clearly visible under her flowing drapery.

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Edward Burne-Jones (Edward Burne Jones) (1833-1898)  The Wedding of Psyche  Oil on canvas, 1895  Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, BelgiumEdward Burne-Jones (Edward Burne Jones) (1833-1898)  The Mirror Of Venus  Oil on canvas, 1898  200 x 120 cm (6' 6.74Edward Burne-Jones (Edward Burne Jones) (1833-1898)  The Three Graces  Charcoal and pastel on brown encil, c1890-c1896  69.5 x 139 cm (27.36
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