Poetry, portraiture and praise: Suckling and Van Dyck, Lovelace and Lely

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Abstract

The interrelationship between poetry and painting, a perennial focus for critical enquiry, takes on a particular cast in the cavalier poetry of the early to middle seventeenth century. Influenced both by the dominance of Van Dyck’s style of portraiture and by the public prominence of epideictic rhetoric, the moment of ekphrasis becomes an opportunity to practice and to explore the viability of praise. This essay examines the reflexivity of an epideictic poetry that makes the praising art its focus, through an examination of works in which claims for the qualities of the artistry in question are permitted to reflect back on the accomplishment of the works themselves. In poems by John Suckling and Richard Lovelace we see how the resort to ekphrasis permits a moment of aesthetic and poetic self-criticism that demonstrates the extent to which cavalier poetry could involve a searching examination of its own enabling conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-369
JournalThe Seventeenth Century
Volume32
Issue number4
Early online date7 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2018

Keywords

  • Cavalier
  • poetry
  • portraiture
  • praise
  • epideictic
  • ekphrasis

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