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Vivid Art in Post-Reformation England

To be published by the Paul Mellon Centre and Yale University Press in Spring 2023.

In Tudor and Jacobean England, visual art was often termed "lively'. This word was used to describe the full range of visual and material culture - from portraits to funeral monuments, book illustrations to tapestry. To a modern viewer, this claim seems perplexing: what could 'liveliness' have meant in a culture with seemingly little appreciation for illusionistic naturalism? And in a period supposedly characterised by fear of idolatry, how could 'liveliness' have been a good thing?

In this wide-ranging and innovative book, Christina Faraday excavates a uniquely Tudor model of vividness: one grounded in rhetorical techniques for creating powerful mental images for audiences. By drawing parallels with the dominant communicative framework of the day, Tudor Liveliness sheds new light on a lost mode of Tudor art criticism and appreciation, revealing how objects across a vast range of genres and contexts were taking part in the same intellectual and aesthetic conversations. By resurrecting a lost model for art theory, Faraday re-enlivens the vivid visual and material culture of Tudor and Jacobean England, recovering its original power to move, impress and delight.


Clocks and Watches in British Portraits c.1530-c.1630

What's the point of a painted clock?

At the University of Cambridge in 2014-2015, I explored the symbolism of clocks and watches in Tudor portraits for an MPhil research masters.

I discovered that clocks didn’t just remind viewers of the onslaught of time and the approach of death, but had a complex range of secret meanings which said a lot about the people who owned them. I revealed the clock’s hidden symbolism, which included personal qualities such as reliability, patience and self-control, but also religious ideas about the workings of the soul, expressing different ideas about faith and salvation.

Image: Cornelis Visscher the Elder, Jacques Wittewronghele, 1574. Rothamstead Research, Harpenden.

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