History is in miniature for tales of the Civil War

Paul Christenson at Hepscott W.I.
Paul Christenson at Hepscott W.I.

Hepscott WI

A Miniature Story Told by a 17th-Century Portrait Miniaturist was the intriguing title of the talk given by Paul Christenson to Hepscott WI.

A lecturer in sciences by day, Paul’s true passion is in the history of the English Civil War, and he approached his subject through the exquisite art of miniature portraiture; in particular a portrait of Charles 1 by Dutch artist Cornelius Johnson.

Miniatures were customarily given as gifts to important people, such as ambassadors, and also as rewards to inspire and hold loyalty. This delightful portrait told its own story.

The subject was the King, and on the reverse was imprinted the Scottish version of the Great Seal, suggesting that the jewel may have been presented to the named recipient, James Epslein, to celebrate his acceptance at court. Investigation by Paul found James Epslein to have been Marchmont Herald, an officer of the King’s Court.

Paul went on to explain more about the part played by the Scots in the war. It is truly amazing that we can learn so much from one small piece of art.

This fascinating period of history, with all its complicated loyalties and u-turns, held everyone’s attention and made for some interesting questions at the end of the talk.

At the next meeting, on February 17, at 7.30pm in the Village Hall, we will be joined by members of Northumbria Blood Bikes, complete with bike, to tell us about the essential work they do in our area.

This promises to be an illuminating evening so please come and join us if you are interested. Guests are always warmly welcomed.