My husband Roy has helped me a lot–a lot!–with this post. Just in case you notice any difference in style. Just saying:-)
On arriving in Rome our first stop was–wait for it!–St Paul’s Within the Walls, the American Episcopal Church in Rome—the first non-Catholic church in Rome. An unusual lovely little church decorated by the pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones in mosaics. It is not well known, and rather hard to find in guidebooks. (If you are interested in visiting, it is on Via Nazionale, Rome). Remarkably we had seen the painting these mosaics were based on up close at an exbibition at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford a few months earlier. The mosaics are much more striking than the paintings.
|The dome above the altar in St. Paul’s within the Walls|
Just above the arc of flowing water there are inscriptions in Hebrew and Greek — the former the beginning of Genesis, and the latter the beginning of Revelation. Here are some details
|Detail — angelic choir|
(‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ John 16.33)
Burne-Jones was especially pleased with the design ‘it said as much as anything I have ever done’ … but acknowledged that ‘everything is done to make it not a picture … and few will understand it’. When the large body colour version was shown at the New Gallery in 1888 ‘no one even looked at it’.
The last and most dramatic design was never executed: an apocalyptic vision of Satan and his angelic army swarming out from the gate of heaven, a dark regiment of beautiful knights who might have stepped straight from the chorus of Parsifal.