A Transfer of Power

Dominic has asked me to write about the evolution of religion from Catholicism in England before Henry VII to the Protestants during the Elizabethan era. I am not here to do your homework for you, Dominic. However, it was an interesting transition, especially when it came to art. 

The Catholics love a good picture of Jesus. Look at the Sistine Chapel. A whole artistic movement and generations of great artists were bankrolled by the Church - and then Protestantism struck, and images of religious figures were made illegal in England. Can you imagine the equivalent of that happening in modern Britain, for British artists? As a writer, I can only imagine it would be like the BBC collapsing and all medical drama being banned from our screens. 

The core of the English painter's career was rapidly removed. And instead they turned to portraiture. (I suspect this is a simplistic view of the cultural shift and there are many people in the room who can set me right.) Having been brought up to magnify the Lord, they were suddenly left painting millers' wives and grain merchants. It must have been eye-opening in more ways than one. On Sunday in church, the spotlight was turned around. The artists weren't looking at the altar anymore, they were looking at their fellow men and women. That was the real transition of power. Artists changed the way they looked at the world, and what they considered art. 



This assumes that the artists were in church in the first place, mind.