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Star of Bethlehem by Edward Burne-Jones is an incredible painting of the 19th century. The art is a display of awesome prowess and dexterity of a renowned guru. The painting exhibits a combination of techniques including blocking in, building up texture, Sgraffito, dry brushing and glazing.
The shades of green, golden, and brown present a beautiful portrait of water-colour. The traces of white and red also enhance the theme of the painting. Star of Bethlehem features baby Jesus Christ and the three wise men (magi) from the East as recorded in the Biblical accounts. The art distinguishes the appearance and complexion of baby Jesus, his mother Mary, his father Joseph, an angel, and the three magi holding their gifts. Jesus is figuratively the star of Bethlehem. Also, there is the mention of the star that divinely appeared and led the magi to Bethlehem at the exact place where this baby, the to-be-king of the Jews, was born.
The background captures the setting of the story perfectly. Mary is holding her baby in a manger and the vegetation on the background shows precisely that this is a community that kept livestock. The decoration depicts that this is a royal baby with one of the gifts being a crown. Edward was a lover of the classical beauty and was determined to portray its reality. Therefore, he explored historical events and creatively did drawings, paintings, and prints of the same from mere theory and rare writings. Star of Bethlehem is one of the paintings that demonstrate Edward’s prowess in his blissful days of artwork. The design presents the typical Pre-Raphaelite signature.
Edward was inspired by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the protagonist of the Pre-Raphaelites Movement of artists. Perhaps, his study of theology at Oxford prompted his interest in the medieval Biblical paintings. In fact, he later abandoned theology and diverted to artwork for a career. His skillfulness and aptitude were also reinforced by William Morris who was a colleague artist whom they left college together to venture into this niche.