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.
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
Shakespeare’s The Winter’s
Tale , meanwhile, we hear of the carving of a sculpture of the
supposedly dead queen Hermione by ‘that rare Italian master,
Giulio Romano’, before we are shown the statue seeming to come to
life. 4 In
these examples visual representation is associated with processes of
construction rather than with the display of a finished, formal object.
Divine destruction in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay
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
connection between aesthetic discourse and critical constructions of
early modern materiality. At points in this study I have noted that
critics are drawn to characterisations of early modern culture as the
site of the celebration of aesthetic incoherence or uncertainty.
Discussions of the ‘statue scene’ in The
Winter’s Tale emphasise openness to Hermione’s
‘unknowable image’; early modern English
Catherine Sandbach-Dahlstrom, ‘Virginia Woolf ’s Three Guineas: a theory of liberation
for the modern world?’, Women’s Studies International Forum, 17:2–3 (1994), p. 231.
22 Woolf defended her position in Three Guineas against much opposition, for example
in a letter in which she remarked ‘Of course I’m “patriotic” ’. Virginia Woolf to Ethel
Smyth, 7 June 1938 in Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf (London: Vintage 1997), p. 710.
. In other words, when
the prologue to Henry V invites playgoers to ‘make up the
difference’, this request may be made partly in recognition that
that difference is unknown and unattainable. In the previous chapter, I
suggested that Shakespeare depicted Hermione’s statue as
‘under construction’ as part of the evocation of divine
‘wholeness’ and perfection. This perfect, creative
bathed in mineral springs, and read German psychology. Germany was the
home of ‘the cure’.
The narrative push
22 See Saunders I, pp. 2, 12, 536; II, pp. 168, 197.
23 See ‘Sketch of the Past’ in Moments of Being, and chapter 10 of Hermione
Lee’s biography, Virginia Woolf (Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1996).
24 Hergenhahn writes that although Kraepelin ‘brought order to an otherwise
chaotic mass of clinical observations, his work is now seen by many as
standing in the way of therapeutic progress . . . People do not fall nicely
into the categories that he created
Gender, sexual difference and knowledge in Bacon’s New Atlantis
In figuring forth the mother as veiled but present, and disturbing
conventional binary relationships between nature and culture,
Bacon’s text resists conformity to a fantasy of male parturition.
This device is comparable to the magical re-presentation of
Hermione in The Winter’s Tale, interpreted by critics as both a
fantasy of masculine productivity and as a liberating restoration
of an equity between male and female in reproduction.31 Additionally, by inverting conventions, and feasting masculine fertility, Bacon also critiques European humanist
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