The Engraving Of John Droeshout ‘King James I Of England And VI Of Scotland With Truth And Time, Memory And History’ (1651): An Interpretation
Keywords:James I (VI), Early Stuarts, Early Stuart England, Jacobean era, Melancholy, acedia, Saturn, vanitas, memento mori, iconography of Time
This essay aimed at iconological analysis of an engraving by John Droeshout. During the study, the author applied classical methods of art history: iconological and iconographical, method of formal stylistic analysis of Heinrich Wölfflin, culture-historical method of Jacob Burkhardt. The engraving dates back to 1651 – by that time the King has been already dead. Thus, it allows to explore the commemorative and representative practices of his successors. Droeshout's engraving and poetic commentary testify that the language of visual arts was perceived as optional and ancillary; one that helps to understand the plot of the book better (visually). Droeshout tests the weakening of the concept of ‘the divine right of Kings’. The images of skulls, time and candles are typical allegories of memento mori and vanitas. These images function in two dimensions at once: 1) indicating that King dies in the same way as ordinary people do; 2) while connecting the anthropomorphic images of Time, Truth, History, Memory they also indicating the inevitable restoration of Truth, which Time will return to History with the help of Memory. The prospect of further research is the disclosure of interaction between the narrative and the image of James I, which functioned in the English society of the revolutionary period (1640-1689). At the same time the ‘visual language’ of the elements of engraving (the symbolism of windows next to the figures of Memory and History, rugs behind the King's figure) should be explored.