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The Star of Bethlehem - Study for the Angel's Head

The Star of Bethlehem - Study for the Angel's Head, 1890

Red and white chalk on brown paper.
375mm x 290mm
EBJ 1890
Bequest of J R Holliday, 1927, accessioned in 1931.

Accession Number:



Possible head study for the angel in 'The Star of Bethlehem' as a preparatory design for the watercolour.


Exhibition History

1900 Berlin
2007 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery


A E Whitley. Catalogue of Drawings. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: 1939. p. 105.
Elisa Korb with John Christian and Tessa Sidey.Hidden Burne-Jones, Works on paper by Edward Burne-Jones from Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. Dan Giles, Ltd., London: 2007. p. 93, B1097.

Research Information:

This head study may be compositionally based on the angel in the 1887-88 gouache cartoon version of 'The Star of Bethlehem' (Collection of Lord Lloyd-Webber; see also Sotheby's Sale 3/11/1993, no.219), but intended for BMAG's version in watercolour (1891P75), based on the date. The cartoon was for a tapestry executed by Morris & Co. (for two versions of this composition: Norwich Castle Museum, Norfolk and National Gallery of South Australia). A similar mixed media cartoon with gilt was executed, with the angel's head in a different pose, for an earlier tapestry (in 1888, cartoon in the V&A; tapestries in Eton College Chapel and Exeter College Chapel, Oxford). The 1888 cartoon for tapestry is compositionally identical to the large watercolour of 'The Star of Bethlehem' now in BMAG 1891P75; begun 1887-91; inscribed by EBJ '1890').