The Misericords of Beverley Minster: a Corpus of Folkloric Imagery and its Cultural Milieu, with special reference to the influence of Northern European iconography on Late Medieval and Early Modern English Woodwork
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The set of 68 misericords in Beverley Minster, Yorkshire, carved in 1520, are considered here both as a corpus of "folkloric" imagery in their own right, and in a wider cultural context. A detailed iconographic examination of the individual misericords under such headings as "The Fool and Follies", "Satires", "The Oestiary" "Exempla", etc., leads to the isolation of a small number of motifs which are seen not to belong to the native tradition. These non-English motifs are traced to two main sources, the border woodcuts in early Parisian printed Horae and Flemish & German prints. The identification of these sources for the Beverley designs leads to further identifications elsewhere, and especially in the stalls of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, c.l480. In the case of Beverley it is suggested that the means of transmission of such Continental imagery is via the port of Hull (the Customs Accounts for the port being examined in this light), and the printers and book-sellers of York. The local cultural milieu in which the Beverley stalls were created is examined and Henry Percy, the "Magnificent" Fifth Earl of Northumberland, shown to be an influential patron of the arts; but other local influences considered include the late medieval dramatic cycles played in Beverley, the town’s patron saint John (portrayed as a "hairy anchorite") and a York & London printer known to have printed in Beverley, Hugo Goes (whose unique woodblock-printed wallpaper is also discussed). Goes's Flemish origin leads to a consideration of the presence of other alien artists and craftsmen (e.g. Maynard Weywick who provided the patterns for Torrigiano’s Westminster tombs) at work in late medieval and early Tudor England -- much of it assembled here for the first time.
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