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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: October ::
Paintings in Stratford
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0698  Wednesday, 17 October 2007

From:		Peter Bridgman <
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Date:		Tuesday, 16 Oct 2007 23:49:57 +0100
Subject: 18.0691 Paintings in Stratford
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0691 Paintings in Stratford

As David Evett rightly points out, while much medieval stained glass in 
churches and cathedrals survived the 16th and 17th centuries, much was 
destroyed, including all glass windows from the 800 religious houses 
demolished in the late 1530s.

Jack Heller writes ...

 >I first became aware of the Guild Chapel art from a reproduction of a
 >St. George image in James Shapiro's A YEAR IN THE LIFE. The St.
 >George image is not included in that link, so would there be
 >more images available than the link includes?

I found the detail from the Guild Chapel 'Doom' by using Google image 
search. There don't appear to be any more sections of the painting at 
that site, nor anywhere else online.

 >It is very difficult to find similar imagery from England in the time of
 >Shakespeare, but, as I think sonnet 73 might support, collective memory
 >of the imagery might still have a powerful influence. This is why I am
 >hoping to get as complete a source as possible of what images are 
reported
 >to have existed in Stratford.

Jack, you should probably be looking at London images too. After all, WS 
spent very little of his writing career in Stratford. He would also have 
known the towns and villages between London and Warwickshire 
(Beaconsfield, Oxford, Banbury, etc.)  He also probably knew the area 
round Titchfield in Hampshire (home to the Southamptons.)  And there are 
some who say he spent time as a young man in Lancashire. If so, Catholic 
Lancashire was very late in removing its religious images, and WS 
would've seen a great deal of unbroken stained glass and unwhitewashed 
wall paintings up there.

In addition, as Professor Duffy's book tells us, there were 50,000 
printed 'primers' (breviaries for the laity) in circulation at the dawn 
of the Reformation. Most of these were illustrated. Although possession 
of such a book would've landed the owner in jail during Elizabeth's 
reign, the number of primers that hadn't been collected must still have 
been considerable, and WS is likely to have seen several, especially 
during his childhood in Stratford.

I don't want to discourage you, but drafting even a rough list of the 
religious images WS might've seen would seem to be an impossible task.

 >If windows were not all broken-and it seems that George Herbert has
 >seen some still bearing biblical images, it would be helpful to get a 
good
 >catalogue of those we know to have existed in the 16th century.

I would try the Victoria and Albert museum. They have a large permanent 
exhibition of medieval stained glass.

As for wall paintings, I recommend this useful site. It has already led 
me to wonderful discoveries ...

http://www.paintedchurch.org/list.htm

Peter Bridgman

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