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Studio: international art — 16.1899

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Sir Edward Burne-Jones

nestles in the bottom down below, while the heavy
rain-clouds, so rare in this favoured region, drive
across the sky. But here, as in the rest of the
earlier presentments, the vision is still vague, im-
perfectly seen, and, through the inevitable lack of
training, imperfectly rendered ; and it is only when
we come to the enchanting vale, where the merciful
knight kneels to receive the kiss of Christ, with its
unruffled pool below and its wooded hillside rising
beyond, that we first enter into a full perception of
the goodliness of the land.

In the Wine of Circe we get our first view of the
summer seas that wash its coasts, wind-whipped
and thrashed into foam by the oars of the
approaching galleys, a mere distant glimpse, how-
ever, caught through the enchantress' window.
We come nearer to the ocean when we gaze
from Dorigen's " magic casement opening on
the foam of perilous seas," but the vision is not
altogether a convincing one. There is a lack of
dash and movement in the waves that break upon
the shores " in Armorick that clepid is Bre-
taigne," the might and terror of the sea is wanting,
and " the grisly rockes blake " seem hardly sharp-
toothed and venomous enough to justify Dorigen's
fear of them and consequent prayer for their re-

moval to a place where they would have every
chance of becoming " metamorphic," in geological
parlance. It is only when Perseus hastens to save
Andromeda by the rough rock of doom that we
behold clearly and perfectly the flash and glitter of
billows leaping beneath the feet of the wind, the
joy and the riot of the sea rolling into the cliff-girt
bay ; but here, as again in The Doom Fulfilled,
with the pent waves fretting the walls of the
labyrinthine gorge, we find all the life and motion
that the most exacting can desire.

Only once again in our wanderings do we come
into near relations with the sea, but when we do
we go down into the very depths of it where the
mermaidens dwell, to the roots of the world, where
the deep-sunk bases of the towering precipices rest
among the sand and gravel gleaming through the
strange liquid pellucidity in the soft golden radi-
ance filtering downwards from the world above,
through which the little fish flit overhead as the
birds do in the upper air. But this unwonted ex-
cursion beyond the natural bounds of man must
be regarded as a work of pure fantasy, not apper-
taining to the land proper, though it may be per-
missible to conjecture from it that they have there
something in the nature of our aquariums.


(From a photograph by F. Hollyer)