Renaissance Bodies: The Human Figure in English Culture c. 1540-1660

Renaissance Bodies: The Human Figure in English Culture c. 1540-1660

Language: English

Pages: 304


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

With essays by John Peacock, Elizabeth Honig, Andrew and Catherine Belsey, Jonathan Sawday, Susan Wiseman, Ellen Chirelstein, Tamsyn Williams, Anna Bryson, Maurice Howard and Nigel Llewellyn.

Renaissance Bodies is a unique collection of views on the ways in which the human image has been represented in the arts and literature of English Renaissance society. The subjects discussed range from high art to popular culture - from portraits of Elizabeth I to polemical prints mocking religious fanaticism - and include miniatures, manners, anatomy, drama and architectural patronage. The authors, art historians and literary critics, reflect diverse critical viewpoints, and the 78 illustrations present a fascinating exhibition of the often strange and haunting images of the period.

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heraldic flatness of Elizabeth Pope's body and the sensuous physicality of her costume. And while her image remains within an heraldic tradition, the depictions or references to movement, to the display of the body and to space and depth within the painting suggest an attempt to alter or break with the conventions of the English icon. Elizabeth Pope's classical drape of fabric probably has its source in the illustrations of personified figures in contemporary prints and emblem books. William

today we regard the Elizabethan miniature as a portrait and its metal and enamel casing as a frame, there is little doubt that the Elizabethan would have regarded both portrait and frame as a single unit, an enamelled jewel containing a limned likeness.'30 In Nicholas Hilliard's words, the miniature was meant 'to be viewed of necessity in hand near unto the eye'.3 1 Thus, the intimacy and closeness of the gaze were an essential aspect of the viewer's experience. By focussing Elizabeth Pope's

often considered as the 'robe' of the soul- has fallen away from the abdomen. The inner man is revealed. That this is to be understood as a sacramental, even sacrificial, act is indicated by the dramatic rays which surround the figure with an aura of light. These and similar ecorche figures might remind us, yet again, of the Marsyas myth, particularly the reading of it suggested by Edgar Wind. The agony of the flaying of the satyr becomes an explicit 'ordeal of purification'. In Wind's words: To

told to salute his superiors and strangers respectfully, to wash before and after meals and to avoid loud belching and farting. 13 Yet for all that such literature allows us to reconstruct some of the basic norms of bodily behaviour, it shows no consistent focus on bodily courtesy as an ideal in itself. Instead, attention is overwhelmingly directed to one sort of social occasion and to the relationships which are to be expressed in the rituals of that occasion: this is the main meal or banquet,

body. Bastardy provides a paler analogue for it in that the single woman's pregnant body partly confesses her crime; fornication and bastardy were meanings attendant upon her pregnancy, but the body of a woman would not reveal the Representing the Incestuous Body father to whom the parish might turn to require economic support for the child. If a woman had committed fornication, she might be declared a common whore and punished with banishment by some church authorities. 17 She might be put on

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