Art and soul: Clive Ashwin looks to painting for the bigger picture
‘Vermeer’s work speaks to two of the central testaments of Quakerism.’
At the time of its origins, in the second half of the seventeenth century, Quakerism must have seemed very remote from other Christian traditions. Most of those had, in varying degrees, become highly dependent upon the arts in their broadest sense, including painting, sculpture, architectural symbolism, costume, devotional literature, and liturgical music. Early Quaker Meeting houses would have been bare of these embellishments, as indeed most of them still are. The spartan simplicity of the Meeting house was reflected in the dress, domestic life, and language of the early Quakers.
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