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La miniature à l'époque moderne
3. La miniature et les arts

Envisioning the Miniaturist’s Art on Stage: the Case of The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll (Anonymous, 1600)

Représentation de l’art du miniaturiste sur scène: le cas de la pièce anonyme The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll (1600)
Armelle Sabatier

Abstracts

Printed in 1600, probably at the same period of time when Nicholas Hilliard was writing The Arte of Limning, the anonymous play, The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll, was performed at Saint Paul’s where many plays featuring painters and using paintings as stage properties had been produced. According to Marguerite Tassi, this seldom-studied comedy hinges upon the “paragone between jeweller and painter” (The Scandal of Images, 123), between the noble Lassingbergh who disguises as a painter to woo Lucilia, and the latter’s father, Flores, who is a jeweller and a miniaturist.

This essay seeks to explore the aesthetic role played by miniatures as stage properties and objects in this comedy which confronts different works of art and artistic techniques, such as antique works, miniatures, goldsmithery and even embroidery. The comparison between the painter who produces counterfeits and the miniaturist who sets his pictures in gems and works on agate stones gives a new turn to the traditional neo-Platonist debate on shadows and substance, dramatized in William Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona. This set of oppositions gives way to another paragone between the art of picturing and the art of drama, highlighting the connection between miniature-making and dramatic performance. The integration of miniatures on stage verges on interartistic contamination in act 3: using the power of verbal artefacts and visual objects such as gems and jewels to move and manipulate the beholders, the character of the Enchanter creates the vision of an actual miniature within the dramatic performance.

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Introduction

  • 1 Marguerite Tassi, The Scandal of Images. Iconoclasm, Eroticism and Painting in Early Modern English (...)
  • 2 This play was printed in 1605, but critics agree it was performed around 1600 (see Patricia A.Cahil (...)
  • 3 Tassi interprets this competition in the light of the Italian tradition of the paragone, op.cit., p (...)
  • 4 Ibid., p. 99-100.
  • 5 Anonymous, A Very Proper treatise, wherein is briefly sett for the the arte of limming, which teach (...)

1Printed in 1600, and probably performed the same year, the anonymous play, The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll, features a painter and a miniaturist/goldsmith as the leading characters of what has been termed a “romantic comedy”1. The dramatization of pictorial art as well as the staging of pictures and miniature portraits became fashionable at the turn of the seventeenth century, especially at Saint Paul’s theatre which produced Antonio and Mellida the same year. Elizabethan spectators could also attend the Earl of Derby’s Men production of The History of the Tryall of Chevalry, another anonymous play, probably staged in 16002, which explored varied pictures “in little” and in stone on stage. Last but not least, after shaping one of the main plots of The Merchant of Venice (1598) around miniature portraits, William Shakespeare set pictures at the heart of a pivotal scene of Hamlet, performed in 1599-1600. While all these plays throw light upon traditional interpretations of pictorial art, such as its deceptive nature, its shallowness or the dangers of idolatry, The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll offers an innovative perspective upon picture-making by creating a competition between two artisans, the painter and the miniaturist3. The use of miniature portraits and jewels as stage properties as well as the numerous commentaries on the technicalities and the workmanship of miniature-making, testify to an interest and a certain knowledge of this art shared both by the playwright and the public of Saint Paul’s theatre. Not only has Marguerite Tassi shown that the audience was of a “higher rank, and more sensitive to arts”, but she has also pointed out the geographical proximity of this playhouse with the English miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard who “resided in Saint Vedast’s parish, just northeast of Saint Paul’s”4. Furthermore, the play was written at a time when treatises of art were being printed. Although the first English treatise on painting had been published in 1573, mainly proposing recipes for painters5, Richard Haydocke’s English translation of the Italian Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo’s Trattatto della pittura was published in 1598. Following this publication, Haydocke encouraged Hilliard to write a treatise on his art as is indicated in the subtitle of A Treatise Concerning the Arte of Limning, written by the miniaturist around 1600.

  • 6 Many books on the subject have been published over the last decade. To quote but a few – Stuart Sil (...)
  • 7 Making and Unmaking in Early Modern English Drama, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2013, p (...)
  • 8 “Breaking the Ice to Invention: Henry Peacham’s The Art of Drawing (1606)”, The Sixteenth Century J (...)

2In spite of an unwavering interest in the interrelation between literature and the visual arts in the English Renaissance6, very few scholars have investigated the role of miniatures in the anonymous The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll. In The Scandal of Images, Marguerite Tassi has explored this seldom-studied play at length, focusing mainly on the controversial social status of painters, their low reputation as seducers and artificers and highlighted the erotic innuendos underlying this comedy. Nevertheless, she has paid little attention to the aesthetics of the diverse pictures described and shown on stage. Although these objects are presented through what she calls a paragone between Lassingbergh, the aristocrat would-be painter, and Flores the jeweller-miniaturist, the visual artefacts produced and commented upon on stage share common features with the miniaturists’ versatile talents, more precisely Nicholas Hilliard’s. While Marguerite Tassi brought to the fore the connection between painting and acting and the varied metatheatrical effects in this play, the role of gems, agate stones and the art of goldsmithery in the dramatic action have passed unnoticed. Not only are gems a key element represented on Elizabethan miniature portraits, but the jewels created by Flores also reveal another facet of Elizabethan miniaturists who were often trained as goldsmiths. These skills have been left unexplored even in subsequent research on this play, as in Chloe Porter’s analysis of idolatry7, or Liam E. Semler’s work on grotesque8.

3While considering the varied rhetorical devices, such as ekphrasis, and the theatrical techniques used in this play to make small-sized, expensive miniatures and agate stones visible on stage, this essay seeks to investigate how the anonymous playwright discusses the aesthetic features of miniature-making in the manner of contemporary art treatises. The integration of such theatrical props on stage not only enables the author to ponder on the nature of dramatic art in metadramatic scenes, but it also leads to an innovative combination of miniature making and dramatic writing, verging on interartistic contamination in act 3 – through the power of verbal artefacts and visual objects such as gems and jewels to move and manipulate the beholders, the character of the Enchanter creates the vision of an actual miniature within the dramatic performance.

“More Art is shaddowed here”9 (act 2, 371)

  • 9 The quotations from The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll are taken from M.N Matson’s edition, Oxford, The (...)
  • 10 This interpretation is given by Tassi, op.cit., p.121.

4In act 2 of The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll, the jeweller-miniaturist Flores welcomes a Saxon prince, named Alberdure, and his followers, to contemplate his creations, probably shown in his studio. His desire to impress the prince – who would make a perfect match for his daughter Cornelia – is thwarted by the presence of a picture drawn by Lassingbergh, a painter staying in his house. Alberdure, whose name echoes the German painter Albert Dürer10, is fascinated by the “antick work” that he erroneously attributes to Flores:

I am heere admiring
The cunning strangenes of your antick worke:
For though the generall tract of it be rough,
Yet it is sprinckled with rare flowers of Art.
See what a livelie piercing eye is here;
Marke the conveiance of this lovelie hand;
Where are the other parts of this faire cheeke?
Is it not pittie that they should be hid? (act 2, 352-9)

  • 11 This reference was given by N.M. Matson, op. cit., p. 202 n.
  • 12 Op.cit. , p.122.

5Alberdure’s comment on the “rough” quality of the “antick worke” is reminiscent of John Florio’s definition of the Italian grottesca as “a kind of rugged unpolished painters work, anticke worke”( A World of Wordes, 1598)11. Alberdure’s commentary primarily acts as an ekphrasis, this poetical device aimed at describing a picture that cannot be seen. Although the few stage directions of the play do not give any indication as to the size of the picture exhibited on stage, one can infer that even by using a full size portrait, the spectators would hardly see all the details described by Alberdure, especially as they are hidden within the general design of the picture. Alberdure invites the beholder to move beyond the seemingly unfinished surface of the picture to see the hidden image of feminine beauty (“piercing eye”, “lovelie hand”, “faire cheeke”) and appreciate the artist’s delicate workmanship (“rare flowers of Art”). While Flores dismisses this picture, the prince asks one of his followers, Motto, to give his “judgment” (364). The name of this character, described as “a practitioner”, is undoubtedly reminiscent of the words commenting on images in emblems and imprese, as was suggested by Marguerite Tassi12. Instead of describing the elements or the techniques of the picture, his remarks expose the identity of the painter: “More Art is shaddowed heere /Then any man in Germanie can shew, /Except Earle Lassingbergh” (371-3). Hence, the polysemy of the term “shadow” in Elizabethan English, which can allude to a picture or an actor, puts an end to Lassingbergh’s double identity as an aristocrat disguised as a painter painting “shadows” to seduce Lucilia, Flores’ other daughter. By setting forth Lassingbergh’s taste for secrecy – one of the meanings of the verb “to shadow” – both Alberdure and Motto direct the spectator’s gaze towards the many secret devices hidden in this picture, but also in the play.

6Feeling upset by Lassingbergh’s tricks to seduce his daughter and Alberdure’s praise of this unwelcome competitor, Flores presents the Prince with portraits carved in agate stones that are “more woorth the sight, /Both for their substance, and their curious Art” (act 2, 380-1). The contrast between shadow and substance, usually interpreted as stemming from Neo-platonism and the parable of the cave in Plato’s Republic, calls attention to the materiality of the objects. As this precious and expensive type of jewel could hardly be used as a stage property and due to the reduced size of the stone, Flores gives an ekphrastic description of the jewel shown on stage:

See then (my Lord) this Aggat that contains
The image of that Goddesse and her sonne:
Whom ancients held the Souveraignes of Love
See naturally wrought out of the stone
(Besides the perfect shape of every lime
Besides the wondrous life of her bright haire)
A waving mantle of celestiall blew,
Imbroydering it selfe with flaming starres (act 2, 383-90)

7The art of carving gems, dating back to the Roman empire, was revived in the Renaissance, especially with agate stones or sardonyx which were used for cameos. Flores shows a second carved agate stone featuring the Earl Casimeer who accompanies Alberdure: “O excellent; this is the very face /Of Cassimeere: by viewing both at once, /Either I thinke that both of them do live,/ Or both of them are Images and dead” (398-401). The lifelike effect of the face on the cameo lies in the goldsmith’s skill in giving depth to the carved figure by creating several layers in the stone as can be seen, for instance, in one cameo portrait featuring Queen Elizabeth which was donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2016 (figure 1)

Figure 1: Enamelled gold ring (1630-45), set with a sardonyx cameo of Elizabeth I (carved between 1570-1600), unknown artist, Victoria and Albert Museum

8Set inside an enamelled ring made after 1630, the cameo, dated between 1570 and 1600, illustrates the refined work on different layers of the stone – the chromatic contrast between white and dark brown adds volume to the portrait while the subtle interplay between depth and colour enables the artisan to hide his art, making his artefacts into a “second nature”. Alberdure is mesmerised by the figures of Venus and Cupid featured on the first agate stone, literally emerging from the stone (“naturally wrought out of the stone”, 386). The details of Cupid’s wings look so natural that the young boy seems ready to fly away: “and see besides (my Lords) /How Cupids wings do spring out of the stone, /As if they needed not the helpe of Art” (391-3).

  • 13 Roy Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature, Thames and Hudson, (1983), 1984, p.69.
  • 14 Nicholas Hilliard, The Arte of Limning, eds. R.K.R. Thornton and T.G.S. Cain, Manchester, Carcanet (...)
  • 15 A photograph of the outside and the inside of the jewel can be seen in The English Miniature, eds. (...)
  • 16 Raphaëlle Costa de Beauregard, Silent Elizabethans, Montpellier, Collection Astraea, 2000, p.199.

9Alberdure’s praise of Flores’ skill in carving calls to mind Nicholas Hilliard’s admiration for Albert Dürer, a master in the art of engraving according to the miniaturist. Like Flores, Nicholas Hilliard had initially been an apprentice as a goldsmith before becoming a painter. After working nine years as an apprentice to the Queen’s Jeweller, Robert Brandon, Nicholas Hilliard had become a versatile artisan who could produce a wide variety of visual artefacts: “Hilliard emerged from his apprenticeship in 1569 as a goldsmith and jeweller, a painter of panel portraits and miniatures, an executor of woodcuts and an artist capable of producing designs to be engraved by others”13. In his treatise, Hilliard praises Dürer as “exquisite and perfect a painter and master in the art of engraving”. Although the rules laid down by the German artist cannot be “followed of painters, being so full of divisions”, these “are very fittable for carvers and masons, for architects and builders of fortification”14. To a certain extent, Flores has followed these rules as Alberdure notices that the goldsmith respected the rules of proportion: “Besides the perfect shape of every limme”. However, Flores’ commentary on the colours of the image (“A waving mantle of celestiall blew /Imbroydering it selfe with flaming starres”) is evocative of water-colour miniature portraits that could also be set inside jewels as can be seen in the Drake Jewel (private collection). This refined jewel that was given to Sir Francis Drake by the Queen, probably in 1586 or 1587, combines a cameo carved in sardonyx presenting two faces, a white woman and a black emperor, with a watercolour miniature drawn by Hilliard that is set inside a golden case richly ornamented with rubies and diamonds15. The miniature portrait uses a blue background, a key feature of Hilliard’s style, using “a deep blue – ultramarine – background”16. The features of the “flaming starres” “embroidering” the blue background in Flores’ jewel alludes to the golden letters used in miniature portraits as signatures or mottos, a feature visible on Hilliard’s miniature portrait hidden in the Drake Jewel. Although there is no indication of the workshop where the jewelled case was made, this type of goldsmithery could have been carried out by Hilliard or his workshop.

10Hence, Flores’ jewel, highly reminiscent of the Drake Jewel, displays the diverse artistry of Elizabethan miniaturists – the art of the goldsmith exemplified in the delicate figures carved on the agate stones adorning the outside lid of the jewel “shadows” more art, that is the art of the miniaturist, hidden inside the locket away from the direct gaze, but also of the engraver who carved the Phoenix on the back of the jewel case of the Drake Jewel. The spectators of Saint Paul’s theatre may have seen or had probably heard of the Drake Jewel, an object proudly worn by Sir Francis Drake as testified by one of his portraits (Gheeraerts the Younger, 1591, Royal Museums Greenwhich). However, the comparison between this jewel and Flores’ creation reveals a slight variation in the choice of the subjects – while Queen Elizabeth is presented as the chaste goddess Diana on Hilliard’s miniature, Flores has been inspired by the love goddess Venus, Diana’s opposite. Furthermore, the presence of Cupid establishes a connection with Lassingbergh’s painting, Flores’ supposed rival. The winged boy leads the way to a secret connection between the two pictures, opening up another perspective into Hilliard’s versatile talents.

11The play opens with a session between the painter Lassingbergh and Lucilia who is shown sitting embroidering a cushion (“working on a piece of Cushion worke”). The painter first addresses the sun, hoping its light will help “join” “the glorious parts of faire Lucilia” which are pictured as “disper’t” (act 1, 9-10) in his antique work or grotesque painting of the young woman. Lassingbergh gives a detailed description on what he himself terms “these base Anticks” (act 1, 50):

Here, in the Center of this Mary-gold
Like a bright Diamond I enchast thine eye.
Here, underneath this little Rosie bush
Thy crimson cheekes peers forth more faire then it.
Here, Cupid (hanging downe his wings) doth sit,
Comparing Cherries to thy Ruby lippes (act 1, 57-62)

  • 17 Op.cit, p.117.
  • 18 Literature and the Visual Arts in Tudor England, Athens and London, The University of Georgia Press (...)

12Marguerite Tassi contends that this antique work is “an elaborate decorative scheme, which he is apparently painting on a wall or hanging cloth”17. The stage directions do not give any indication on the type of picture Lassingbergh is working on – they merely mention that he appears “as painter”, “painting Lucilia”. Antique work or antics, the English translation of the Italian word Grottesca, mainly referred to painted ornamentations intertwining animals, vegetable figures and human bodies which could look monstrous, or simply incongruous. Although Italian Grotesque style appeared in England when Henry VIII invited Italian artists to his court to rival with Francis I, the medieval illuminated capital letters and borders framing the pages of some books already included some of the Grotesque features. David Evett claims that this type of ornamentation, that could be found on tapestries, overmantles, andirons, was extensively used in house decoration: “Grotesque features, singly or in groups, constituted the most striking class of decorative elements on the possessions of well-to-do Elizabethans – their houses, their furniture, their lingerie”18. Hence, most of the spectators attending the play were familiar with this type of artistry, and probably appreciated the hybridity of the pattern intertwining some of Lucilia’s bodily parts with flowers. Although Lucilia’s work on the cushion is not described, the presence of this piece of embroidery on stage could also be evocative of antics used in embroideries and tapestries while the action of sewing visualises the act of uniting and joining different parts.

13Antique work could also be used to frame not only pages of books, but also paintings, such as the portrait of Queen Elizabeth appearing on the Charter for Emmanuel College, authorizing the puritan Sir Walter Mildmay to found Emmanuel College in Cambridge in 1584 (figure 2).

Figure 2: Charter for Emmanuel College, 1584, Reproduced by permission of the Master and Fellows of Emmanuel College, Cambridge

  • 19 Op.cit., p.89.
  • 20 Nicholas Hilliard, London, Unicorn Press, 2005, p.50.
  • 21 Op.cit ., p.92.

14According to Roy Strong, Nicholas Hilliard painted the “figure and dress of the Queen” and was also responsible for the design of the border “consisting of allegorical figures, a coat of arms, strapwork and decorative serpentining sprays of flowers”19. The colouring was probably made by Rowland Lockey, one of Hilliard’s apprentices. The “very sophisticated antique decoration” displayed on the borders, to quote Karen Hearn20, is another evidence of Hilliard’s versatile talent. Hence, Marguerite Tassi’s reading of the staging of a paragone between the painter and the jeweller/miniaturist in The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll needs to be qualified. Both Flores’ exquisite jewellery and Lassingbergh’s “base antickes” were inspired by the diversity of pictorial productions that talented miniaturists such as Nicholas Hilliard displayed in those days. The objects produced on stage reveal only a few facets of Hilliard’s versatility as Roy Strong indicates that the range of his artefacts was wider: “Paintings, miniatures, the Great Seal, medals, illuminations, drawings and designs for woodcuts, together these provide a vivid picture of the activity of the Hilliard workshop during the 1580’s”21.

15Nonetheless, Lassingbergh has added a personal touch to his antique work when he indicates that Lucilia’s hybrid body parts represented as flowers, are similar to precious stones “like diamonds” and “rubby Lippes”. In Hilliard’s illumination of the Emmanuel College charter, precious stones are featured on the Queen’s dress, at the center of the picture, and not within the antique work. The representation of these precious stones on Lassingbergh’s picture, described in a comparative mode, is reminiscent of some Petrarchan poetical devices, hence raising another paragone between visual arts and literary works.

“Making a curious pencil of your tongue” (act 1, 18)

16Lassingbergh’s initial address to the sun, in act 1, to shed light on his work of art is subverted by Lucilia’s ironical commentary on his shallow rhetorical speech:

You paint your flattering words, Lassingbergh,
Making a curious pensill of your tongue,
And that faire artificiall hand of yours,
Were fitter to have painted heavens faire storie,
Then here to worke on Antickes and on me:
Thus for my sake, you (of a noble Earle)
Are glad to be a mercenary Painter. (act 1, 17-23)

17Lucilia’s clear-sightedness calls to mind another sitter’s defiance towards “painted words”. In an earlier Saint Paul’s theatre production, John Lyly dramatised the nascent love between the famous painter Apelles and his model Campaspe (Campaspe, 1584). During their first sessions, the model takes distance with the painter’s praise of her beauty:

  • 22 John Lyly, Campaspe, 1584, eds. Hunter, G.K and David Bevington, Campaspe. Sappho and Phao. John Ly (...)

Apelles: Lady, I doubt whether there be any colour so fresh that may shadow a countenance so fair.
Campaspe: Sir, I had thought you had been commanded to paint with your hand, not to glose with your tongue; but, as I have heard, it is the hardest thing in painting to set downe a hard favour, which maketh you to despair of my face, and then shall you have as great thanks to spare your labour as to discredit your art. (3.1.1-8)22

  • 23 “Mapping the Grotesque”, eds. Geraldine Barnes and Gabrielle Singleton, Travel and Travellers from (...)
  • 24 Ibid., p.196.
  • 25 Lines 216-217, William Shakespeare, Lover’s Complaint, ed. Katherine Duncan-Jones, in Shakespeare’s (...)

18In both plays, the reference to the ut pictura poesis tradition is fraught with negative connotations – flattery being a common feature of portraiture and love poetry. “Heavens faire storie”, such as allegorical paintings, would have been more in keeping with Lassingbergh’s nobility. By choosing to disperse Lucilia’s “several parts”, following the aesthetic principles of antique work, Lassingbergh anatomized her picture as poets did in poetical blazons, a popular literary genre in the 1590’s. Liam E. Semler claims that Lucilia is turned into “an antique-work version of the Petrarchan blazon (itself an inventory landscape)”23. Although the comparison of Lucilia’s eyes to diamonds and her lips to ruby resumes the stock figures of Petrarchan sonneteers (as was shown by Semler24), where “each several stone/ With wit well-blazoned smiled”25, the connection between colours and precious stones calls to mind the correspondences between colours and gems established by Hilliard in The Arte of Limning:

  • 26 Op. cit., p.81

I say for certain truth that there are besides white and black but five perfect colours in the world, which I prove by the five principal precious stones bearing colour, and which are all bright and transparent stones as followed. These are the five stones: amethyst orient for Murray, ruby for red, sapphire for blue, and emerald for green and hard orient topaz for yellow26.

19The colour purity of gems are praised by other characters of the play, such as the Merchant who woos Cornelia by promising to bring her “miraculous Games, rare stuffs of precious worked, /To beautifies you more than all the paintings /Of women with their colour fading cheeks” (119-21), suggesting that the pigments laid on portraits cannot equate the natural colours of precious stones.

20Lassingbergh defends his artistic choice of dispersion over unity to protect his work from the beholder’s direct gaze, but also the artist’s:

Here is thy browe, thy haire, thy neck, thy hand,
Of purpose all in severall shrowds dispers’t:
Least ravisht, I should dote on mine owne worke,
Or Envy-burning eyes should malice it (act 1, 63-66)

  • 27 “Hilliard and Sidney’s Rule of the Eye”, ed. Sophie Chiari, The Circulation of Knowledge in Early M (...)

21The catalogue of bodily parts, evocative of Olivia’s parody of poetical blazons in Twelfth Night (1.5.232-3), echoes Hilliard’s “inventory of desire” to quote Anne-Valérie Dulac’s phrase27. In The Arte of Limning, Hilliard warns the potential limners against the erotic atmosphere that can emerge during portrait sessions. The painter’s focus on the details of the sitter’s face can “inflame the mind”:

  • 28 Op.cit, p.57.

Noting how in smiling how the eye changeth and narroweth, holding the sight just between the lids as a centre; how the mouth a little extendeth both ends of the line upwards, the cheeks raise themselves to the eyewards, the nostrils play and are more open, the veins in the temples appear more, and the colour by degrees increaseth, the neck commonly erecteth itself, the eyebrows make the staighter arches, and the forehead casteth itself into a plain as it were for peace and love to walk upon28.

22These correspondences between painted and verbal anatomies, the intermingling of word and image foreshadow the theatrical aestheticism of this anonymous comedy – Lassingbergh’s antique work and Flores’ gems and jewellery work provide the guiding principles of the unfolding of the plot and of the metatheatrical banquet scene staged in act 3.

23

  • 29 Op. cit. p.125.

24Marguerite Tassi has interpreted the illusory spectacle inserted within act 3 as “an odd, seemingly extraneous plot device”29, missing the verbal echoes between this embedded play and the first two acts as well as the connections between pictorial devices and dramatic art. After Alberdure’s praise of Flores’s artistry, Cornelia tries to declare her love to the prince by giving him a miniature portrait of him contained in a jewel created by her father. Despite his remarks on the quality of the picture (“What? My selfe Lady? Trust me it is pittie/ So faire a Gemme should hold so rude a picture”, act 2, 407), Alberdure accepts the jewel while being secretly in love with Hyanthe. In order to persuade Alberdure to marry his daughter, Flores asks the French Doctor Dodypoll to give him a love potion. Unfortunately, too much powder is poured into Alberdure’s drink who, feeling a horrible burning in his mouth, loses his mind. Meanwhile, after being discovered, Lassingbergh turns melancholic and refuses his former sitter’s advances at the beginning of act 3. Therefore, act 3 presents the audience with a world that has been turned upside down, as if the initial plot had been unsettled by the subversive spirit of the Grotesque style of Lassingbergh’s picture, setting irrational, seemingly disconnected intertwined figures so as to question the beholder’s vision. The audience must have also been puzzled by the arrival of fairies on stage. After Lassingbergh rejected Lucilia’s love, a peasant enters on stage, walking on a “greenhill”. Fairies arrive to set out a banquet, offering him food and drink, but also a ring. Then, the Enchanter enters the stage addressing the fairies as “Antique flames” (act 3, 954). Despite the seeming lack of coherence between this supernatural spectacle and the rest of the play, the term “antique” reveals a first connection with Lassingbergh’s picture. Furthermore, the adjective “antic” could describe a ludicrous behaviour or an actor playing the role of a clown or any other bizarre character. Spectators may also have thought of another character featured in a contemporary play and his decision “to put an antic disposition on” (Hamlet 1.5.170). The “shadowy” nature of fairies is underlined by the Enchanter: “You that are bodyes made of lightest ayre” (958). The Enchanter’s rebuke of the fairies for mistakingly giving a precious ring to the peasant is interrupted by Lassingbergh’s arrival on stage. These ethereal characters witness Lassingbergh’s metamorphosis into a kind of Narcissus followed by a new Echo. Although the former painter has turned his eyes away from her, Lucilia swears she will follow him everywhere: “There will I bodiless be, when you are here” (973). The image of her transparent body, that had been previously dispersed in Lassingbergh’s antique work, mirrors the ethereal illusory bodies of the fairies.

  • 30 Op.cit, p.136.

25Moved by this sad spectacle, the Enchanter decides to unite this couple: “And love commands th’assistance of my Art /T’enclude them in the bounds of my command” (999-1000). This idea of binding dispersed elements calls to mind Lassingbergh’s initial address to the sun to “take” and “join” Lucilia’s dispersed bodily parts to give coherence to his creation. To a certain extent, this wish was not fulfilled as Lassingbergh’s identity was discovered before his work of art was completed. The Enchanter intends to restore the unfolding of the play and its unity by combining theatrical and pictorial devices. By creating a line between disparate elements, the Enchanter imitates the Grotesque linea serpentinata which, according to David Evett, “links those images, imposes a sequence (albeit irrational), calls attention to the activity of the artist beyond the work”30. The connection with Flores’artistry is also present in this spectacle, cunningly hidden among other elements. After Alberdure’s comical mistaking of the peasant with Hyanthe (“How is thy beautie changed since our departure? / A beard Hyanthe? Ô tis growne with griefe”, 1008-9), Flores arrives and gets the opportunity to see the ring given by the fairies: “I never saw a Jemme so precious: /So wonderful in substance and in Art” (1045-7). This jewel, a ring made of jade, is not only reminiscent of the agate stones he proudly showed to Alberdure in act 1, creations “more woorth the sight, /Both for their substance, and their curious Art”, but the size of these gems also mirror the size of the fairies. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio describes Queen Mab, the fairies’ midwife, as no “bigger than an agate stone /On the forefinger of an alderman” (1.4.57-8). Flores’ daughter is to be mesmerized by another picture drawn by the Enchanter.

26While Flores follows the peasant to find more gems, the Enchanter enters the stage again, “leading Luc. & Lss. Vbound by spirits, who being laid down on a green banck, the spirits fetch in a banquet” (E3ͮ). This stage image of unity is suspended when the Enchanter sends Lassingbergh to sleep so as to spend more time with the fair Lucilia whom he calls “faire Nimphe”. He tries to convince the young lady that he is her lover by drawing a verbal picture:

Twas I that lead you through the painted meades,
Where the light Fairies daunst upon the flowers,
Hanging on every leafe an orient pearle
Which strooke together with the silken winde
Of their loose mantels made a silver chime.
Twas I that winding my shrill bugle horne,
Made a guilt pallace breake out of the hill,
Filled suddenly with troopes of knights and dames,
Who daunst and reveled whilste we sweetly slept,
Upon a bed of Roses wrapt all in goulde,
Dost thou not know me yet? (act 3, 1088-1098)

  • 31 Op. cit, p.5.

27This passage is highly reminiscent of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as was shown by M.N. Matson in his edition of the play: “The resemblances to A Midsummer Night’s Dream consist primarily of Lucilia’s pursuit of Lassingbergh and their enchantment in the forest (III, iii and MND II, 1) and of the conceit of fairies hanging ‘orient pearls’ on flowers”31. The Enchanter’s imaginary landscape was also inspired by Titania’s persuasive speech to Bottom, enticing him to stay with her by promising jewels:

I am a spirit of no common rate;
The summer still doth tend upon my state;
And I do love thee: therefore go with me.
I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee;
And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep
And sing, while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 3.1.148-51)

28Despite the numerous intertextual references to A Midsummer Night’s Dream in this comedy, where the Enchanter acts as a foil of Titania, the anonymous author shaped the plot by following the aesthetic principles of the varied visual artefacts displayed on stage throughout the play. While the adjective “painted” clearly points to an ekphrasis, this verbal imaginary landscape sets forth the close interrelation between the world of miniatures and the aesthetics of this play, creating the illusion that Lassingbergh, and especially Lucilia have stepped into the illuminated antique work described at length in the opening of the play. The combination of vegetation (flowers, leafe, bed of roses) intertwined with precious gems and metal (orient pearle and gold) is evocative of Lassingbergh’s aesthetic principle of intermingling diamonds and marigold, or rosie bush and ruby. The linea serpentinata binding together the pearls and the leaves, as well as the bed of roses with gold, is not only suggested by the verb “strooke”, but also by the movement of the dancers set on by the Enchanter “winding [his] shrill bugle horn”. However, the “shadowy” Enchanter painting fascinating shadows with “his curious tongue” to seduce Lucilia suddenly evaporates when Flores tries to wake up his daughter. The lines of the seemingly multi-plotted comedy are united in the last act when Alberdure’s reason is restored and Flores’s admission that his miniature portrait of Alberdure triggered off the prince’s “antic disposition”: This haplesse jewell/ That represents the form of Alberdure /Given by Cornelia at our fatal feast”.

Conclusion

  • 32 George Chapman, Plays and Poems, ed. Jonathan Hudston, London, Penguin Books, 1998, p.239.
  • 33 « Mapping the Grotesque », op. cit., p.196.
  • 34 Ibid., p.240.

29The most-often quoted praise of Nicholas Hilliard’s artistry by his contemporaries lies in the opening lines of John Donne’s “The Storm” where “a hand, or eye, /By Hilliard drawne, is worth a history /By a worse painter made” (3-5). In his preface to Ovid’s Banquet of Sense (1595), George Chapman encourages poets to be inspired by miniature painting: “but he must lymn, give luster, shaddow, and heightening; which though ignorants will esteeme spic’d, and too curious, yet such as have the judiciall perspective, will see it hath, motion, spirit and life”32. The comedy, The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll, takes this praise to a higher level by celebrating the miniaturist’s multi-faceted talent within a dramatic performance built up as a richly ornamented jewel case protecting refined miniature portraits visualised on stage. This study sought to thwart longstanding prejudice against this comedy as exemplified by Liam E. Semler’s derogatory statement: “The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll is hardly profound drama and nor are the brief descriptions of antique-work style (1.1.57-64; 2.1.353-59) particularly acute”33. Beyond the seemingly unpolished surface of this comedy, fraught with Shakespearean references, sometimes verging on farce with the satire of French doctors embodied by the eponymous character, the aesthetic line of this comedy consciously integrates the miniaturists’ workmanship and is deeply influenced by Hilliard’s treatise and vision of limning. The detailed description of antique work and the carving of agate stones reveal a precise knowledge of jewellery, rarely seen in contemporary plays. Following George Chapman’s wisdom – “rich Minerals are digged out of the bowels of the earth, not found in the superficies and dust of it”34 – the “judicial perspective” adopted in this essay sought to throw light upon a true gem in Elizabethan drama, the anonymous The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll.

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Notes

1 Marguerite Tassi, The Scandal of Images. Iconoclasm, Eroticism and Painting in Early Modern English Drama, Selinsgrove, Susquehanna University Press, 2005, p.114.

2 This play was printed in 1605, but critics agree it was performed around 1600 (see Patricia A.Cahill, Unto the Breach: Martial Formations, Historical Trauma and the Early Modern Stage, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008).

3 Tassi interprets this competition in the light of the Italian tradition of the paragone, op.cit., p. 123.

4 Ibid., p. 99-100.

5 Anonymous, A Very Proper treatise, wherein is briefly sett for the the arte of limming, which teacheth the order in drawing and amp, tracing of letters, vinets, flowers, armes and imagery…, London, Richard Totill, 1573.

6 Many books on the subject have been published over the last decade. To quote but a few – Stuart Sillars, Shakespeare and the Visual Imagination, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015; Michele Marrapodi, ed., Shakespeare and the Visual Arts: The Italian Influence, London, Routledge, 2017; Keir Elam, Shakespeare’s Pictures: Visual Objects in the Drama, London, Bloomsbury, 2017; John H. Astington, Stage and Picture in the English Renaissance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, Rocco Coronato, Shakespeare, Caravaggio, and the Indistinct Regard, London and New York, Routledge, 2017; Emanuel Stelzer, Portraits in Early Modern English Drama, London and New York, Routledge, 2019.

7 Making and Unmaking in Early Modern English Drama, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2013, p.41-3.

8 “Breaking the Ice to Invention: Henry Peacham’s The Art of Drawing (1606)”, The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol.35, n°3 (Fall, 2004), p.735-50; The Early Modern Grotesque, London and New York, Routledge, 2019.

9 The quotations from The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll are taken from M.N Matson’s edition, Oxford, The Malone Society Reprints, (1964) 1965.

10 This interpretation is given by Tassi, op.cit., p.121.

11 This reference was given by N.M. Matson, op. cit., p. 202 n.

12 Op.cit. , p.122.

13 Roy Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature, Thames and Hudson, (1983), 1984, p.69.

14 Nicholas Hilliard, The Arte of Limning, eds. R.K.R. Thornton and T.G.S. Cain, Manchester, Carcanet Press Limited, (1981), 1992, p.49.

15 A photograph of the outside and the inside of the jewel can be seen in The English Miniature, eds. John Murdoch, Jim Murrell, Patrick J. Noon and Roy Strong, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1981, p. 51.

16 Raphaëlle Costa de Beauregard, Silent Elizabethans, Montpellier, Collection Astraea, 2000, p.199.

17 Op.cit, p.117.

18 Literature and the Visual Arts in Tudor England, Athens and London, The University of Georgia Press, 1990, p.132.

19 Op.cit., p.89.

20 Nicholas Hilliard, London, Unicorn Press, 2005, p.50.

21 Op.cit ., p.92.

22 John Lyly, Campaspe, 1584, eds. Hunter, G.K and David Bevington, Campaspe. Sappho and Phao. John Lyly, Manchester, Manchester University Press, (1991) 2007.

23 “Mapping the Grotesque”, eds. Geraldine Barnes and Gabrielle Singleton, Travel and Travellers from Bede to Dampier, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2005, p.196.

24 Ibid., p.196.

25 Lines 216-217, William Shakespeare, Lover’s Complaint, ed. Katherine Duncan-Jones, in Shakespeare’s Complete Works, eds. Richard Proudfoot, Ann Thompson and David Scott Kastan, Revised Edition, London, Bloomsbury, (1998), 2013, p.46.

26 Op. cit., p.81

27 “Hilliard and Sidney’s Rule of the Eye”, ed. Sophie Chiari, The Circulation of Knowledge in Early Modern Literature, Farnham, Ashgate, 2015, p. 59-70, p.64.

28 Op.cit, p.57.

29 Op. cit. p.125.

30 Op.cit, p.136.

31 Op. cit, p.5.

32 George Chapman, Plays and Poems, ed. Jonathan Hudston, London, Penguin Books, 1998, p.239.

33 « Mapping the Grotesque », op. cit., p.196.

34 Ibid., p.240.

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References

Electronic reference

Armelle Sabatier, « Envisioning the Miniaturist’s Art on Stage: the Case of The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll (Anonymous, 1600) »Études Épistémè [Online], 36 | 2019, Online since 23 April 2020, connection on 15 August 2020. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/5446; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/episteme.5446

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About the author

Armelle Sabatier

Armelle Sabatier is Lecturer in English at the University of Paris Panthéon Assas. She is a member of the research center for English and American Literature at Sorbonne Université (VALE). She is the author of Shakespeare and Visual Culture. A Dictionary (Bloomsbury, 2016). She has published varied articles on the interrelation of visual arts and early modern drama, and her recent work focuses on the representation of colour on the Elizabethan stage and in Elizabethan poetry. She has also coedited (with Géraldine George, Yvonne-Marie Rogez and Claire Wrobel) a volume on The Dark Sides of the Law: Perspectives on Law, Literature and Justice in Common Law Countries (Paris, Michel Houdiard, 2019) and is currently co-editing with Camilla Caporicci a volume on The Art of Picturing in Early Modern English Literature (Routledge, 2019).

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