The print repertoire of the 16th and 17th centuries in England has been neglected historically, and this remarkable book rectifies a major oversight in the history of English visual art. It provides an iconographic survey of the single-sheet prints produced during the early modern era and brings to light significant recent discoveries from this visual storehouse. It publishes many works for the first time, as well as placing them and those relatively few others known to specialists in their cultural context.
This large body of material is treated broadly thematically, and within each theme, chronologically. Portents and prodigies, the formal moralities and doctrines of Christianity, the sects of Christianity, visual satire of foreigners and "others," domestic political issues, social criticism and gender roles, marriage and sex, as well as numerical series and miscellaneous visual tricks, puzzles, and jokes, are all examined. The book concludes by considering the significance of this wealth of visual material for the cultural history of England in the early modern era.
Malcolm Jones is senior lecturer, Department of English Language and Linguistics, University of Sheffield.