Patron to Painter: Elizabethan Programs for Five Allegorical Paintings
312 pages, 6" x 9", 16
- Published: July 2020
For more than two centuries the group of early modern English manuscripts presented in this volume sat mostly ignored on the shelves of the British Library, known only to the librarians who catalogued them. Six of them, for four different elaborate allegorical paintings, appear in the manuscript catalog of the Sloane Collection as “Instructions to painters.” A seventh, from the Harley collection in the same library, has more recently been added to the group. On art historical, iconographic, and historical grounds the manuscripts add significantly to our knowledge of Elizabethan visual allegory, and reveal a provocative new contribution to the evolution of English political thought. And the development across three of the programs of a warm personal relationship between the patron and the artist opens a unique window into early modern relationships of this kind. Unlike most other surviving artistic programs, this one reveals its author’s personality and interests in a rich and beguiling way, and although as a writer he is no Sidney or Nashe, the naïve yet widely informed enthusiasm with which he addresses his readers has considerable force and charm.