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date: 20 November 2019

Elizabethan stylelocked

  • Alice T. Friedman


Term used to describe British art and architecture produced during the reign (1558–1603) of Elizabeth I. The dominant characteristics in all media are flatness and linearity; in representational art, surface decoration, high colour and complex silhouettes are preferred over plastic form or naturalistic three-dimensional depiction. There is evidence that Nicholas Hilliard, Elizabeth I’s favoured portrait miniaturist, and such other court painters as George Gower, Marcus Gheerhaerts (ii) and Isaac Oliver consciously suppressed their knowledge of contemporary Italian and Flemish naturalism to produce their own distinctive iconic portraits. As for sculpture, the Dutch and Flemish masons who visited or settled in England, such as Garat Johnson (i) and Richard Stevens, tended to dominate. Their recumbent effigies carved for alabaster funerary monuments (often richly coloured) were conventional in design and modelling, while ornamental motifs owed much to the influence of Mannerist Flemish pattern books, such as those by Hans Vredeman de Vries. Among the decorative arts, embroidery in particular was highly prized and widely practised to an exemplary standard in later 16th-century England: the realistic portrayal of fruits and flowers, boldly coloured and within complex formed designs, epitomizes the Elizabethan style in textiles....

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