The Ascension - 1885
This was the first window that was installed at St Philip’s, in 1885. It depicts Jesus parting with his followers and ascending into heaven forty days after Easter.
The window is divided into two halves, the top half of which displays Christ surrounded by the heavenly host. Six angels stand around Christ – three on each side of him. They have their hands clasped, as if in prayer. They are draped in long flowing fabric in various pastel shades which, in certain strong lights, can appear almost neon. Above the heads of Christ and the angels, the tops of many halos are just evident through the mass of feathers which flood the top of the window with vibrant red. Like many of Burne-Jones’ figures, the angels which surround Christ have proportionally small heads and long bodies which heightens the impression of the angels as other worldly beings. They have serene and placid expressions and appear two-dimensional.
This contrasts with the depiction of the disciples and followers of Jesus who are painted in bold, vibrant tones. The deep blues of the sky which divide the two halves of the window emphasise this contrast and symbolise the separation between the earthly and spiritual realms. The disciples display evident emotion in their expressions and gestures as they look up to Christ. They gaze up at him, surrounded by the angels in heaven – but their own feet are firmly planted on the ground. Christ extends his left hand towards them – but his right hand points towards his heavenly destination. The Ascension window was initially intended to be the only window in the Cathedral. However, Burne-Jones was so struck with its beauty that he was inspired to design two more, and so the Crucifixion and then the Nativity windows were installed in 1887.