top of page


Vivid Art in Post-Reformation England

Paul Mellon Centre & Yale University Press

Spring 2023

In Tudor and Jacobean England, visual art was often termed "lively'. This word described all kinds of visual and material culture - from portraits to funeral monuments, book illustrations to tapestry. To a modern viewer, this claim seems perplexing: what did 'liveliness' mean in a culture with seemingly little appreciation for 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. Faraday re-enlivens the vivid visual and material culture of Tudor and Jacobean England, recovering its original power to move, impress and delight.




What's the point of a painted clock?

This research explored the symbolism of clocks and watches in Tudor portraits. 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.

bottom of page