What We Mean When We Talk About Style: The 'Redolent' Eglantine Table c. 1568

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Created c.1568 to commemorate a trio of dynastic marriages between the Cavendishes and the Talbots, the ‘Aeglentyne’ Table stands in the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire. Featuring an intricate three-panelled motif of musical instruments, gaming paraphernalia, and intertwining flowers borrowed from various continental prints, it has long been held as a masterpiece of English furniture. However, when approached through a traditional stylistic analysis, based upon the identification of tropes and features, the Eglantine Table runs the risk of falling under the category of ‘bad’ style: it is paratactic; it is epideictic. Such a judgement utterly misses the point of the Eglantine Table, and its visual strategies. ‘Style’ has become a ubiquitous term for the analysis of the things of visual culture. It allows the historian of visual culture to categorize into a shorthand that belies the sheer variety of the objects of study. The work of Willibald Sauerländer, amongst others, has long since argued for a deeper reflection on ‘style’ and a shift away from the ‘sheer abysmal vagueness’ of stylistic analysis. This paper seeks to respond to Sauerländer’s call by providing a sensitive and illuminating analysis of the style(s) of the Eglantine Table.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-260
Number of pages13
JournalWord & Image: a journal of verbal/visual enquiry
Issue number3
Early online date16 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Sep 2020