Art and Magic in the Court of the Stuarts by Vaughan Hart

By Vaughan Hart

Spanning from the inauguration of James I in 1603 to the execution of Charles I in 1649, the Stuart courtroom observed the emergence of a whole expression of Renaissance tradition in Britain. Hart examines the effect of magic on Renaissance paintings and the way in its position as a component of royal propaganda, artwork used to be used to symbolize the ability of the monarch and replicate his obvious command over the hidden forces of nature. courtroom artists sought to symbolize magic as an expression of the Stuart Kings' divine correct, and later in their coverage of Absolutism, via masques, sermons, heraldry, gardens, structure and processions. As such, magic of the type enshrined in Neoplatonic philosophy and the court docket paintings which expressed its cosmology, performed their half within the complicated explanations of the Civil battle and the destruction of the Stuart photo which in its wake.

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42 In this emphasis, the Caroline masque not surprisingly became a primary vehicle for the expression of royal absolutism. Jonson’s Love’s Triumph through Callipolis (1631) was the first in a series of masques spanning the period of Charles’s so-called Personal Rule, in which Platonic love and virtue were now celebrated as the fruits of absolutism. Here the king was cast emblematically as Heroic Love and the queen as Beauty, whilst muses hailed the renaissance of the arts under such rule and Venus, the celestial embodiment of Platonic love, descended to bless her royal, earthly image: VENUS.

They may securely prove Then any labyrinth, though it be of love. (lines 230–8) The steps of the following dance, which the text makes clear were directed by Daedalus, were demonstrations of the poetry, representing moving symbols of royal love treading an even, harmonious path through life’s maze and thereby reconciling, as the title promises, pleasure to virtue: …all actions of mankind Are but a labyrinth or maze, So let your dances be entwined, Yet not perplex men unto gaze; 21 ART AND MAGIC IN THE COURT OF THE STUARTS But measured, and so numerous too, As men may read each act you do And when they see the graces meet, Admire the wisdom of your feet.

A true-love Knot, will hardly be unti’d, And if it could, who would this Payre divide? 6–8); indeed in Aurelian Townshend’s masque Tempe Restored (1632) Jones proclaimed the notion that the soul was elevated through the contemplation of royal beauty: ‘corporeal beauty’, he writes, ‘consisting in symmetry, colour and certain unexpressable graces, shining in the Queen’s majesty, may draw us to the contemplation of the beauty of the soul, unto which it hath analogy’ (lines 361–4). This suggests how Jones himself saw the purpose behind the symmetry of his architecture.

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