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The unknowable image in The Winter’s Tale
Chloe Porter

Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale presents one of the most famous depictions of a patron of the visual arts in early modern English drama. In the penultimate scene of the play, we are told that the Sicilian courtier, Paulina, is in possession of a ‘statue’ of the dead Sicilian queen, Hermione (5.2.93). ‘Hearing of her mother’s statue’, Perdita, Hermione’s long

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama
Spectators, aesthetics and encompletion
Author: Chloe Porter

This book discusses early modern English drama as a part of visual culture. It concerns the ideas about 'making and unmaking' that Shakespeare and his contemporaries may have known and formulated, and how these ideas relate to the author's own critical assumptions about early modern aesthetic experience. The study of drama as a part of visual culture offers the perfect context for an exploration of pre-modern aesthetic discourse. The book expounds the author's approach to plays as participants in a lively post-Reformation visual culture in the process of 're-formation'. It then focuses on the social meanings of patronage of the visual arts in a discussion of Paulina as patron of Hermione's image in The Winter's Tale. The discussion of The Winter's Tale pivots around the play's troubling investment in patriarchal notions of 'perfection'. The book also explores image-breaking in Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay. This play presents an instance of onstage iconoclasm in the supernatural destruction of a demonic brazen head, a quasi-magical figure that had been depicted in English literature since at least the twelfth century. In focusing on the portrayal of invisibility in The Two Merry Milkmaids, the book explores early modern preoccupation with processes of visual construction in a play in which there is very little artisanal activity.

Open Access (free)
Speaking pictures?
Chloe Porter

are invited to ‘awake … faith’ in the possibility that the Sicilian courtier Paulina can ‘make the statue move’, and are also advised not to ‘kiss’ or touch the statue, which is ‘newly fixed’ (5.3.46–95). In Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay , meanwhile, Miles, a young scholar, is pointlessly armed with ‘pistols’ and acts ineffectually at the moment at which the brazen head

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama
Open Access (free)
Behind the screen
Chloe Porter

the instance in The Winter’s Tale in which Leontes and Paulina discuss the possibility of the king’s remarriage, and Paulina advises that this event may only take place if Leontes meets with ‘another / As like Hermione as is her picture’ (5.1.74–5). The loss of property occasioned by the death of the wife in this example is translated into the irreplaceable loss of an incomparable aesthetic

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama
Divine destruction in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay
Chloe Porter

yielding unto Vandermast’ (ix.143). Bacon’s authority is here centred on his ability to apply prohibition to the actions of mortal and supernatural agents in relation to spectacle, and recalls Paulina’s prohibition on touching the image of Hermione in her ‘chapel’ in The Winter’s Tale (5.3.86). In that play, a lack of physical contact with an image participated in the construction of Hermione’s statue as

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama
Chloe Porter

function as onstage spectators. In The Winter’s Tale , Paulina is patron of the supposed statue of Hermione; in Lyly’s Campaspe , Alexander the Great commissions a portrait of Campaspe, while in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay , Friar Bacon oversees a demonic image-making process. Since The Two Merry Milkmaids concerns spectatorship within the visual field rather than of a specific artwork, there

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama