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Norfolk Glass

In a review in The Early Art Drama, Art, and Music Review (2002), Ann Eljenholm Nichols argues that the map on page 118 (Map 8.4) of surviving glass of Mary cannot be used to support the hypothesis that there was more systematic iconoclasm in the south of the county than the north.

If she is correct (and she probably is) this does not disprove the hypothesis. It simply removes one of the planks of evidence on which it stood.

Ann Nichols has two major points.

1. Even if there is more Marian imagery surviving in stained glass in the north, this may simply reflect a more intense Marian devotion in the late Middle Ages, perhaps springing from the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

2. Anyway, the evidence for there being more Marian imagery surviving in glass in the north of the county is itself suspect:

a) because the source from which we were working for map 8.4 (Woodforde's Norfolk School of English Glass-Painting) is itself selective.

b) because many of the survivals recorded by Woodforde are themselves fragmentary, and therefore not necessarily indicative of lack of iconoclasm at the church in question.

I think that we would accept that point 1. is a possibility, and would fully accept point 2a). Point 2b) may well also be correct, although it should be said that a pattern of high rates of survival may well indicate less iconoclasm on average, even if it were not the case that each and every instance of survival occurred through lack of iconoclasm.

We are grateful to Ann Nichols for her thoughtful review (in addition to the help she gave us on fonts when we were writing the book). We would also recommend her new book, The Early Art of Norfolk: a subject list of extant and lost art, including items relevant to early drama (Kalamazoo, Michigan, 2002; ISBN 1580440347)


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