Foreign influences on and innovation in English tomb sculpture in the first half of the sixteenth century
This study is an investigation of stylistic and iconographic innovation in English tomb sculpture from the accession of King Henry VIII through the first half of the sixteenth century, a period during which Tudor society and Tudor art were in transition as a result of greater interaction with continental Europe. The form of the tomb was moulded by contemporary cultural, temporal and spiritual innovations, as well as by the force of artistic personalities and the directives of patrons. Conversely, tomb sculpture is an inherently conservative art, and old traditions and practices were resistant to innovation. The early chapters examine different means of change as illustrated by a particular group of tombs. The most direct innovations were introduced by the royal tombs by Pietro Torrigiano in Westminster Abbey. The function of Italian merchants in England as intermediaries between Italian artists and English patrons is considered. Italian artists also introduced terracotta to England. A group of terracotta tombs in East Anglia, previously attributed by tradition to Italian artists, is re-examined. A less direct initiation of iconographic and stylistic innovation occurred through English artists' use of foreign patterns. The synthesis of such two-dimensional imagery by English sculptors is examined in certain tombs in Hampshire and Sussex. The influence of the Florentine royal tombs on English tomb sculpture in the latter half of the period is illustrated by alabaster tombs from an English workshop and by three other important tombs. The abandoned Italian project for the tomb of Henry VIII is studied in the context of the religious, political and economic changes that contributed to the breakdown of a supportive environment for Italian artists in England. Finally, the relevance of religious Injunctions and iconoclasm to the evolution of English tomb sculpture by the middle of the century is considered.