Beyond the page: Quarles's Emblemes, Wall Paintings, and Godly Interiors in Seventeenth-Century York

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In 1998, the remains of a sequence of seventeenth-century emblematic wall-paintings were discovered in a house in York. The paintings’ reproduction of images from Francis Quarles’s Emblemes (1635), rarely used in domestic decoration in the period, prompts a series of questions about the identity of the paintings’ commissioner, their private and public use, and how viewers were to understand the relationship between word and image in the paintings’ depiction of the soul’s anguished relationship with God. In providing preliminary discussion around each of these questions, the article places the York paintings in the wider context of domestic decoration in early modern England, and focuses on the complex set of relationships between householder, painting and viewer, and between the wall-paintings and their literary and biblical sources.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-551
Number of pages31
JournalHuntington Library Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015


  • seventeenth-century English visual and material culture; wall-paintings; Francis Quarles' Emblemes, English adaptations of continental Jesuit emblem books, domestic decration in Laudian religious culture