Decorative Plasterwork in South-West England c.1550-1640
Date: 8 June 2020
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Doctor of Philosophy in Art History and Visual Culture
This thesis is the first comprehensive academic analysis of domestic decorative plasterwork in South-West England, which survives in a variety and abundance that exceeds other areas of the country. It focuses on the Post-Reformation period from c. 1550 to c. 1640, which covers the foundation and development of the craft to a point of ...
This thesis is the first comprehensive academic analysis of domestic decorative plasterwork in South-West England, which survives in a variety and abundance that exceeds other areas of the country. It focuses on the Post-Reformation period from c. 1550 to c. 1640, which covers the foundation and development of the craft to a point of divergence between the vernacular and polite traditions in the mid-seventeenth century. As a primarily object-based study it presents a close analysis of decorated ceilings, overmantels and friezes in the region based on their physical presence and location within the houses. This study is underpinned by a gazetteer of plasterwork from 485 houses from Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and West Dorset, supported by maps, tables and 296 photographs and illustrations. Of these houses, 62 were visited as part of this study and recorded in detail, concentrating on four key geographic areas: the borders of West Somerset, Devon and Dorset; the North Devon port of Barnstaple and its hinterland; the region’s capital at Exeter; and the South Devon mercantile centres of Dartmouth and Totnes. This study places the corpus of plasterwork within the context of the social, economic, and architectural developments of the period. It assesses the nature of the medium, the techniques employed in its production and use, the designs adopted and adapted, and the internal and external sources for these. It analyses the operation of plasterwork workshops within their geographical parameters and the respective roles of the client and plasterer and examines their input into design choices. It presents new understandings of the use of iconography in plasterwork and how the display of heraldic, biblical, and classical imagery and its placement within the house was used by the client to communicate identity and status. This thesis also presents new evidence that the architecture of late-sixteenth century high status houses was consciously manipulated to prioritise the visual qualities of the plasterwork.
Item views 0
Full item downloads 0