It had hung on the wall of my childhood home. A small, sepia picture which tickled my curiosity. Where had the beautiful ladies come from and where were they going beyond that door? Had they played at a concert or were they off to music practice, each with their own unique instrument? They looked like angels but I knew angels only ascended, with the odd exception of the fallen one.
The incompleteness of the circle irked my sense of symmetry – I felt there must be a left hand version to hang as a pair or diptych. But no, my Grandmother told me there was just this one – and artistically it was the importance of the bare feet, which demonstrated the perfect execution of line drawing by Burne-Jones. As a budding artist, I could see the sense of this, as all human appendages seemed impossible to draw without gross distortion.
Not long after I turned 15, my father took me to the Tate gallery, no doubt intending to put some polish on my gauche adolescence. And there in the Pre-Raphaelite gallery was the original – the Golden Stairs- not sepia as the framed chocolate box lid that hung in my home but all silvery blues and honey, in a 9 foot by 4 immensity. A sharp intake of breath seemed to lift me up for a full and closer look. It was a religious moment.
Further Reading: The Image of Aestheticism: Burne-Jones’s The Golden Stairs
Postscript: With age, I’ve seen the beauty in decrepitude too – Eye of the Beholder
Written for the Daily Prompt: Eye of the Beholder. Describe what it feels like to hear a beautiful piece of music or see a stunning piece of art.