Skip to comments.A Sad Reminder of the Art Lost in the Years After the Reformation
Posted on 10/08/2013 5:24:17 PM PDT by marshmallow
A new exhibition at Tate Britain highlights the scale of destruction to artworks in the Tudor period a staggering amount of books and music were also destroyed
The slashed and broken medieval images displayed in the new Art Under Attack exhibition at the Tate are a reminder of what we lost in the hundred and fifty years after the Reformation. Even now there is denial about the scale of the erasing of our medieval past. The Tate estimates we lost 90% of our religious art. It was probably even more than that. The destruction was on a scale that far outstrips the modern efforts of Islamist extremists. And it was not only art we lost, but also books and music.
We think of Henry VIII and the destruction of the monasteries, but that was not the end of the destruction, it marked the beginning. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, hailed the reign of his son, the boy king Edward VI, as that of a new Josiah, destroyer of idols. After his coronation an orgy of iconoclasm was launched. In churches rood screens, tombs with their prayers for the dead, and stain glass windows, were smashed. The Elizabethan antiquarian John Stow complained, some of this Christian Taliban judged every image to be an idol, so that not only religious art, but even the secular thirteenth century carvings of kings in Ludgate were broken.
Books too were burned on a vast scale. Earlier this year Melvyn Bragg was on TV telling us about William Tyndale during the reign of Henry VIII, and the forces of Catholic conservatism blocking publication of his English bible with its attached Lutheran commentaries. But conservatives were not alone in wishing to suppress books that contained ideas they did not agree with. When the monasteries were suppressed.....
(Excerpt) Read more at catholicherald.co.uk ...
One man’s art is another man’s idol.
Dont forget, the Protestants of the Reformation often hated beautiful things.
No less an authority than the Protestant Ralph Adams Cram, a world renowned expert on art and architecture, once wrote:
“From the outbreak of the Protestant revolution, the old kinship between beauty and religion was deprecated and often forgotten. Not only was there, amongst the reformers and their adherents, a definite hatred of beauty and a determination to destroy it when found; there was also a conscientious elimination of everything of the sort from the formularies, services, and structures that applied to their new religion. This unprecedented break between religion and beauty had a good deal to do with that waning interest in religion itself. Protestantism, with its derivative materialistic rationalism, divested religion of its essential elements of mystery and wonder, and worship of its equally essential elements of beauty. Under this powerful combination of destructive influences, it is not to be wondered at that, of the once faithful, many have fallen away. Man is, by instinct, not only a lover of beauty, he is also by nature a ritualist, that is to say, he does, when left alone, desire form and ceremony, if significant. If this instinctive craving for ceremonial is denied to man in religion, where it preeminently belongs, he takes it on for himself in secular fields; elaborates ritual in secret societies, in the fashion of his dress, in the details of social custom. He also, in desperation, invents new religions and curious sects working up for them strange rituals . . . extravagant and vulgar devices that are now the sardonic delight of the ungodly. ... If once more beauty can be restored to the offices of religion, many who are now self-excommunicated from their Church will thankfully find their way back to the House they have abandoned. The whole Catholic Faith is shot through and through with this vital and essential quality of beauty. It is this beauty implicit in the Christian revelation and its operative system that was explicit in the material and visible Churches and their art. We must contend against the strongest imaginable combination of prejudices and superstitions. These are of two sorts. There is first, the heritage of ignorance and fear from the dark ages of the sixteenth century. I am speaking of non-Catholic Christianity. Ignorance of authentic history, instigated by protagonists of propaganda; fear of beauty, because all that we now have in Christian art was engendered and formulated by and through Catholicism; fear that the acceptance of beauty means that awful thingsurrender to superstition. It is fear that lies at the root of the matter, as it does in so many other fields of mental activity.” (Radio Replies, vol. 2: 1052)
“Dont forget, the Protestants of the Reformation often hated beautiful things.”
Reactions to sin often swing to the other extreme. Doesn’t make either right.
Speaking of which, the Israelites called, and they'd like their bronze serpent back.
If "the art" is the private property of "the one man"....the "other man" probably ought to resist the temptation to destroy it.
Or has the Catholic Church forfeited the right to own its own property?
Reactions to sin? Oh please. The Reformation in England was neither popular nor necessary. It was imposed upon a good people.
“Reactions to sin often swing to the other extreme. Doesnt make either right.”
There was no sin in producing beautiful religious art that raised people’s spirits. Catholics were right to produce the art. Protestants were wrong to destroy it.
My gut reaction is...Oh well.
The lost knowledge of history and the past from the destruction of books is the more worse crime by far, but I have to say that at the end of the day I'm not losing much sleep over that either.
I never was much of an art lover.
Tell them to talk to the Orthodox: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.monomakhos.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/serpent-1.png&imgrefurl=http://www.monomakhos.com/crozier-and-cadduceus-serpentine-imagery-in-christian-iconography/&h=436&w=328&sz=159&tbnid=jqC0wcIJm7Ri3M:&tbnh=114&tbnw=86&zoom=1&usg=__PMrwTPNrYZ1lnEtHV3UUuTG15zk=&docid=Q_5z-t2sBhPquM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=S6ZUUpm_JemN3AXcuoDABw&ved=0CD0Q9QEwBA
Cromwell learned his trade well, later employing it for Henry VIII in the general dissolution of the monasteries between 1536 and 1540, destroying in five short years what a thousand years had built. As Henrys chief minister he embarked upon the destruction of an estimated 1,300 abbeys, priories, nunneries, and hospitals, some 2,374 free chapels and chantries, and presided over the acquisition and despoliation of their lands, and of their people.
Live by the Established Church, die by the Established Church.
The art was created and collected when the Catholic Church was the Established Church of England, Wales, Scotland.
Then the politics changed. The government, of which the Church was part, took a different tack, and had something different they wanted from the the branch of the government that was the church, and their assets were scrapped or liquidated.
I think those Florencians want their stuff back too.
“My gut reaction is...Oh well.”
So, if someone takes all your nice stuff - all the stuff that took some art to produce - but leaves your books behind you’re okay with that?
Well, the Anglicans have turned Canterbury Cathedral (and all others) into a museum. You have to pay to go in. We’d appreciate it if they would give it back (and all the others, too).
If the bulding was paid for with donations from the people, or with tax money, then perhaps the Catholic Church should submit a bid and try to buy it back.
“Then the politics changed. The government, of which the Church was part...”
That’s a complete falsehood. That is proved to be a falsehood by the Act of Supremacy in 1534. If the Church was part of the state then no such Act would have been necessary. Learn some history before you post about it.
I just can't get too worked up about it, any more than I can get worked up about Julius Caesar double-crossing Crassus and Pompey.
“Dont forget, the Protestants of the Reformation often hated beautiful things.
Reactions to sin often swing to the other extreme. Doesnt make either right.”
Sorry but you need to be more specific. Beauty is not sinful. If you want to say that reformers were reacting to abuses of authority and etc. in the church, and in their blind rage they became extreme and also attacked beautiful art that was designed to help people meditate on the glory of God, I get it. But even so it sure calls into question the motives behind their initial reaction.
Wouldn’t that be Florentines and not “Florencians”.