mosaic by Burne-Jones

The Tree of Forgiveness by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt ARA. 1885-91. St. Paul's within the Walls, Via Napoli, 58, Rome (Architect: G. E. Street, 1873).

According to Hilary Morgan, "the artist designed [this mosaic] in 1885, completing the cartoon in April 1893. The mosaic was unveiled in November 1894. He described the cartoon, a mystic crucifixion, to Frances Horner in 1891: 'a great flowering tree growing all over the space; ... and in the tree a very pale Christ, and on one side of it Adam, and on the other Eve, and two toddlers, and these shall stand for mankind.' Burne-Jones was always reticent about the underlying symbolism of his work, and it is clear that the 'two toddlers' represent Eve's two children Cain and Abel. Photography by George P. Landow, November 2004.

"On the second arch over the choir, Burne-Jones has represented the Tree of Forgiveness. Christ, hands outstretched powerfully, is supended before the green-leaved Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. On one side stands Adam and the other Eve with her firstborn. The thistles from which spring the lily symbolize the hardness of man's labor from which springs his divine possibilities, concretized in the story of the Annunciation. Under the scene is written in Latin: 'In the world, ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.' (John 16:33)." (St. Paul's within the Walls, p. 2). Behind the arch we see the vision of angels.

Related Materials


Morgan, Hilary, and Peter Nahum. Burne-Jones, the Pre-Raphaelites, and Their Century. London: Peter Nahum, 1989. Catalogue number 70.

St. Paul's within the Walls. Anglican Episcopal. Rome, n.d. 4-page descriptive pamphlet.

Last modified 5 June 2020