Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

English Iconoclasm V

If buildings could be destroyed so thoroughly as I indicated in my previous post on this thread then furnishings stood even less chance, although being portable they were carried off and individual examples do survive. However given that English iconoclasm was so often directed against the images and paraphanalia of Catholic worship the survivals are a miniscule percentage.

The examples I give of survivals are one which my mind or a bit of research turned up - this is in no way an attempt to include all examples, or to assess survival rates. What hopefully this will indicate are the sometimes extraordinary lengths people went to to save what they considered inportant, and also just how much has been lost.

If many medieval paintings were on the walls of churches then they disappeared under whitewash or went down as the building was destroyed.

The Doom painting in the church of St Thomas Salisbury

The painting is dated to about 1475 and is the largest to survive in England.
The figures at either side are thought to be St James, patron of pilgrims and St Osmund, the first bishop of Salisbury. The painting was rediscoverd and restored in the nineteenth century
Image: martinstown.co.uk

The two greatest surviving British devotional panel paintings of the late middle ages may well have survived because they included royal portraits. Thus in addition to the great Westminster portrait of King Richard II we still have the wonderous Wilton Diptych - but before it was engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar in the 1630s its history is unknown.

1 comment:

tyler fletcher said...

Great article, cant wait for more