1st Edition

The Painted Closet of Lady Anne Bacon Drury

ISBN 9781138548312
Published April 29, 2018 by Routledge
412 Pages

USD $51.95

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Book Description

Lady Anne Bacon Drury (1572-1624) was the granddaughter and niece of two of England's Lord Keepers of the Great Seal, Sir Nicholas Bacon and Sir Francis Bacon. Lady Anne was also the friend and patroness of John Donne and Joseph Hall; however, she deserves to be remembered in her own right. Within her massive country house, Lady Anne created a tiny painted room that she seems to have used as a kind of three-dimensional book. The walls consisted of panels of pictures and mottoes, grouped under Latin sentences. These panels can still be viewed in a Suffolk museum: Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich. Some panels point to classical and Biblical sources, and to popular emblem books. The sources of other panels are more recondite, while still others are original compositions by Lady Anne. The panels exhibit a contemptus mundi theme and reflect a struggle with ambition, pride, and even despair. Some panels also appear to register carefully veiled but pointed critiques of political and religious events and figures. Lady Anne's painted closet or 'architext' is thus relevant to a wide range of early modern scholarship in various disciplines but is as yet largely unappreciated. For the first time in four hundred years, this book fully describes the closet and places it in its personal, social, intellectual, and aesthetic contexts. It argues for the painted closet's importance for understanding early modern conceptualizations of private and public spaces, and for illuminating fundamental early modern habits of seeing and reading (especially combinations of text and image). Finally, this book explores the closet as an example of the ingenious ways in which female subjectivity found ways to express itself even within the constraints of early modern patriarchal society in England.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Lady Drury’s life and relations; ’She leaves this space’: the Drury monument and epitaph; ’Never less alone than when alone’: the rhetorical space of the closet; Situating the closet panels; The order of the closet panels; ’Small but fit for me; and yet I find no rest here’: the closet panels; Appendices; Works consulted; Index.

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H.L. Meakin received her doctorate from the University of Oxford and is the author of John Donne’s Articulations of the Feminine. She now teaches English literature at the University of South Florida.


Prize: Awarded a Paul Mellon Centre Publication and Author Grant

"[Meakin's book] is an analysis of profound scholarship. Like her subject, Meakin demonstrates a sure command of both the classics and contemporary theological texts....[T]his study must be welcomed with enthusiasm, not just for its exemplary scholarship, but also for making this extraordinary survival more widely known." Renaissance Quarterly

"Assuring her value to early-modern scholarship, Meakin has contributed a second monograph of broad utility to specialists....[N]o one, to date, has taken the subject further than Meakin, nor understood it as well. Owing to its range, Meakin's [book] will be valued by specialists in art history, feminism, meditative practices, emblemology, and art site design and installation. This is a unique and special book, and a beautiful one." Early Modern Studies Journal

"This [research] has implications not only for art-historical methodology (in areas of iconography, emblematics, representation), but also for architectural history, literary studies, the development of emblem studies, and above all for our understanding of the literary, Latinate, and humanist education of women in early seventeenth-century England. These achievements ought to secure a wide readership for this book and ensure its status as an influential starting point and model for further research in a variety of fields." Emblematica

"In this book, Meakin provides not only a context for the panels, but also a detailed description and analysis of the panels themselves including their possible arrangement in Anne Drury’s closet at Hardwick House. She examines sources for each panel, and considers the relationship between the panels, other texts, and the reasons for Drury’s choice of subject in each instance. The richness of this discussion is one of the book’s greatest strengths, as the discussion ranges across genres, yet remains centered on the subject matter of the panel and its possible resonances and nuances for Drury." Early Modern Women: an Interdisciplinary Journal

"H. L. Meakin's book...is a fundamental study as it is the first one of this type to provide a broad and exhaustive presentation of the way in which women found ways to mark their discreet presence in the predominantly patriarchal society of seventeenth-century England....This book will enchant readers who would like to explore and understand the complexities of the painted panels and establish connections between symbolic images and text." Sixteenth Century Journal