Thursday, March 23, 2006

Images in Jacobean England

Collinson notes that there was some repression of images during the late Elizabethan era. Images appeared neither in the church nor in Elizabethan school primers:

"Nothing demonstrates more forcefully the absolute refusal of so many late Elizabethan and Jacobean religious communicators to appeal to their senses and to popular taste then the pictures which are missing from their books, where you might expect to find them." (p.22)

He continues this line of inquiry by exploring the possible cognitive impact of pictorial want. In the process, he inadvertently invokes Ferguson:

"What do we know about the capacity to form mental pictures of someone who has almost never seen an actual picture? What would our mind's eye conception of Christ consist of if we had been totally isolated from the christian iconographical tradition? The visual imagination of ordinary people in Jacobean England is not a very accessible subject." (p.23)

This trend changed in the 1620s and 1630s as van Dyck and Reubens responded to the patronage of James I and Charles I. The general tone of anti-Calvinism couldn't have hurt.

References

Collinson, Patrick (1986). From Iconoclasm to iconophobia: the cultural importance of the Second English Reformation. Reading: Reading University Press.

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