The Spirit of Chivalry
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The Spirit of Chivalry

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Chivalry was one of the great inventions of the Middle Ages: the notion of the devoted love of a knight for his lady, which need have no physical manifestation; the ideals of courtliness, defence of the weak, and adherence to a strict code of knightly behaviour. In the Victorian rediscovery of all things medieval, this was one of the aspects which was seized on with the greatest enthusiasm, and was one of the strongest contributions to the lore of the new Public Schools. In this painting Maclise brings together most of the symbols of Chivalry: a Lady, attended by a knight, looks instead towards religion and its teachings. Below her, a poet, crowned with laurel leaves, reminds us of the proud tradition of medieval chivalric poetry, which musicians in the foreground sing in the lady's honour.

(2) The Spirit of Chivalry

(3) The Spirit of Chivalry

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The Spirit of Chivalry

In comparison to those in the Robing Room or the Royal Gallery the mural paintings in the Lord's Chamber are, if anything, recessive rather than dominant. It has been hard for them to compete with the craftsmanship of Pugin's interior details, in particualr the maginificance of the throne.

At the time of the commission Victorian historians were looking back to the Middle Ages and their teaching proclaimed the virtues of the 'High Middle Ages'. The commissioning body chose subject matter which therefore extolled such virtues which the Victorian Age sought in its society: justice, religion and chivalry. Three frescoes directly represent these, whilst in the other three these virtues are expressed in historical narrative. In one, Prince Henry encounters the meaning of justice; in another, King Ethelbert is baptised into the Church in recognition of religion; and Edward III expresses the spirit of chivalry by founding the Order of the Garter, and making his son a knight. Advanced Category Search

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