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Title: From Switzerland to England : whitewashing and the new aesthetic of the Protestant Reformation (1524-1660)
Author: George, V. A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2002
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This thesis explores the possibility, as a serious consideration, that the use of whitewash in Reformed church interiors, beginning with the wholesale whitewashing of Zurich church interiors in 1524 at the beginning of the Swiss Reformation, was not just a means to obliterate idols and images. It is proposed that while the application of whitewash when first used in Zurich may have been the result of a sub-conscious colour choice, it was always a reference to a state of mind, over time accruing symbolic value. The author advances the proposition that the act of whitewashing church interiors did not consist in the elimination of images alone which 'cleaned the slate' of 'Popish idols', but involved the creation of a new iconography of faith. The new 'image' was, as all images are, informed by the 'colour thinking' of its makers, in this case the Protestant Reformers and their following, and by a particular intellectual and emotional orientation to colour and colour symbolism acquired through the Bible filtered, as this author concludes, through a perception of God as light, as the Truth, as the Good, as the Beautiful, as the Pure, and as a symbol of Righteousness. The orientation of the Reformed to the colour white itself is examined, through an analysis of colour metaphor and symbolism in the writings to two magisterial reformers, Zwingli and Calvin, taking into account select other writings known to have been studied by them or available to them in libraries, such as Plato, Cicero, Josephus and St. Thomas Aquinas. An attempt is made to develop both an understanding of the theological basis for, and a view of, the actual pattern of the whitewashing of church interiors, which played a significant role in the visual transformations which took place between 1524-1660 during the process of establishing an identity for the Reformed Church.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available