Archive: John Donne; undone; redone: The John Donne Monument in St Paul’s Cathedral, London

Date: 17th June 2014 18:30
Venue: Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club, 9 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
Lecturer: Dr Philip Cottrell, School of Art History and Cultural Policy UCD

“Nicholas Stone’s effigy of John Donne in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London (1632/3) is a strange and elegant example of seventeenth-century English tomb sculpture. Although upright,Donne appears enveloped in a body-hugging burial shroud gathered into two frilly ruffs at the head and feet. Intriguingly, days before his death, Donne seems to have personally modelled for the monument, clad in his own winding sheet and standing on an urn-shaped box. Philip Cottrell’s talk offers some thoughts on the broader art-historical context of the statue, its relationship to transi tomb iconography, and the intimate role played by art in the deathbed rituals of the period. Donne’s act of modelling for the monument reflects a fascinating relationship between ‘art’ and the ‘art of dying’ in seventeenth-century England.”

Philip Cottrell is a lecturer at the School of Art History and Cultural Policy, UCD. His published research has primarily focused on painting in Renaissance Venice. However, in addition to his research on the John Donne monument, he has also published on aspects of nineteenth-century art collecting in Britain.

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