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No.2 October 2009
Pictorial Reconstruction of Ecclesiastical Design

Ariyuki Kondo

[Keywords] John Everett Millais, Anglo-Catholicism, Ecclesiastical Design, Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

This paper examines ways in which mid-nineteenth century medievalist artists perceived and depicted Christian ritual settings, or, more specifically, the liturgical order and use of space in ecclesiastical architecture. The focus is primarily on the implications of the chancel, the area for the Eucharist, the highest act in the Christian religion, which controls the entire nature of Christian rituals, in John Everett Millais's Christ in the House of His Parents (1849-50). Gothic Revivalist Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin's severe Christian medievalism was based on his firm conviction that "it is scarcely possible to preserve the interior faith in the doctrine of the holy eucharist if all exterior reverence and respect is to be abolished". Pugin, although considered very eccentric for his extreme medievalism, was, in fact, not alone in this ecclesiastical stand. A similar conviction on the inseparability of religious ritual from faith itself seems to have been held by many other mid-Victorian artists affiliated with Anglo-Catholic circles, amongst whom was Millais, whose Christ in the House of His Parents is believed to have been inspired by Puseyan typology. It is widely known that, in his Christ in the House of His Parents, Millais intended the interior of Christ's parental home, viz., a carpenter's workplace, to be an emblem of the chancel in a church, carefully depicting spatial details as symbolic of Biblical significance, reminding us of Pugin's claim that "in pure architecture the smallest detail should have a meaning or serve a purpose". Through close examination of this specific iconographical work, this paper intends to explore the high regard in which Millais held the Anglo-Catholic liturgical order and use of space in ecclesiastical architecture, and in so doing suggest the synthesis of art, architecture, and religion in mid-Victorian Britain.

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