Strategies for Showing: Women, Possession, and Representation in English Visual Culture, 1665-1800

By Marcia Pointon | Go to book overview

tensions between portrait and allegory which I explored in Chapter 2. One reason why there is no named sitter for St Cecilia must therefore be that no element of portraiture can be permitted to seep into the image, at least not if the semantic density of the image and the artist's own self-portrait therein are to survive. An important commission from a highly educated patron, Reynolds's St Cecilia should be regarded as the tour de force of a brilliant artist at the apogee of his career.


Notes
1.
H. Walpole, The Beauties: An Epistle to Mr. Eckhardt, the Painter ( London, 1746).
2.
The Protestant Church, lacking the machinery of Roman Catholicism for canonization (and energetically repudiating it), makes contemporaries saints as a matter of popular opinion, collectively identifying individuals as saintly. The Book of Common Prayer recognizes them as historical personages. The relationship of Protestant culture to saintliness is generally enabling and unproblematic; when it comes to saints, however, it is, as one writer remarks, only possible to speak figuratively or by analogy (see D. Davie, The Eighteenth-Century Hymn in England ( Cambridge, 1993), 55). In the context of what I shall discuss in this chapter saints may be regarded as a category of the semi-forbidden, acknowledged but prohibited. The standard work on 18th-cent. religion in England remains N. Sykes, Church and State in England in the XVIIIth Century ( Cambridge, 1934), but see also I. Rivers, Reason, Grace and Sentiment, i: Whichcote to Wesley ( Cambridge, 1991). For the 17th cent., see M. Aston, "Gods, Saints, and Reformers: Portraiture and Protestant England", in L. Gent (ed.), Albion's Classicism: The Visual Arts in Britain 1550-1660 ( London, 1995) and C. J. Sommerville, The Secularization of Early Modern England ( Oxford, 1992), especially ch. 7, "The Secularization of Art".
3.
On Hogarth and religion, see R. Paulson, Hogarth ( Cambridge, 1990), especially iii. 261 and D. Solkin, Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century England ( New Haven, 1993), ch. 5.
4.
W. Hogarth, A Burlesque on Kent's Altarpiece at St. Clement Danes Church ( Oct. 1725), see Paulson, Hogarth, i, pl. 38, Oct. 1725.
5.
The event was recorded in a large group portrait by Agostino Masucci, now in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.
6.
Described by J. C. D. Clark, English Society 1688-1832 ( Cambridge, 1985), 186. A more detailed account of the episode and a reproduction of the altarpiece which is now destroyed is to be found in I. Pears, The Discovery of Painting ( London, 1988), 45-6; Paulson, Hogarth, i. 138-9 gives the definitive account but see also B. F. L. Clarke, The Building of the Eighteenth-Century Church ( London, 1963), 163.
7.
Paulson, Hogarth, i. 138, quoting the Daily Post.
8.
A Letter from a Parishioner of St. Clement Danes to . . . Edmund Ld. Bp. of London, Occasioned by his Ldsp's Causing the Picture over the Altar, to be Taken Down ( London, 1725), quoted in Pears, Discovery of Painting.
9.
M. Postle, Sir Joshua Reynolds: The Subject Pictures ( Cambridge, 1995), 13-14 and 313. Postle reproduces both paintings of Mrs Quarrington.
10.
See p. 131.
11.
RA 1790 (181). For details see A. Graves and W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir J. Reynolds ( London, 1899- 1901), i. 82-3. C. R. Leslie and T. Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds ( London, 1865), state ( ii. 548) that the artist's eyesight was failing by 1789.

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