Sir Philip Sydney

Source: ‘Sir Philip Sydney’ in Andrew Clark (ed.), ‘Brief Lives’: Chiefly of Contemporaries, Set Down by John Aubrey, Between the Years 1669 & 1696 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1898), vol. II, pp. 249-250

Text: When I was a boy 9 yeares old, I was with my father at one Mr. Singleton’s, an alderman and wollen-draper in Glocester, who had in his parlour, over the chimney, the whole description of the funerall [of Sir Philip Sidney], engraved and printed on papers pasted together, which, at length, was, I beleeve, the length of the room at least; but he had contrived it to be turned upon two pinnes, that turning one of them made the figures march all in order. It did make such a strong impression on my young phantasy, that I remember it as if it were but yesterday. I could never see it elswhere. The house is in the great long street, over against the high steeple; and ’tis likely it remaines there still. Tis pitty it is not re-donne.

Comments: John Aubrey (1626-1697) was an English antiquarian, archaeologist and writer, best known for Brief Lives, a collection of biographical sketches of people from the seventeenth century which was not published until after his death and exists in several forms. The poet Sir Philip Sidney was killed at the Battle of Zutphen and his funeral was held in London on 16 February 1587. Aubrey includes this memory of a moving screen effect from around 1635 in his biography of Sidney (spelled Sydney in his text).

Links: Copy at the Internet Archive


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2 thoughts on “Sir Philip Sydney

  1. Merry Christmas! What a wonderful post! Again!
    Reference to this painted scroll is, of course, absent from any of the literature I have lying around here: Oettermann, Hyde, Verwiebe, Brancion. No-one seems to mention it, or anything like it at all. The only older model would seem to be the Emakimono scrolls of Japan, produced during the Heian period 794 – 1185, which sometimes reached c60 feet long with a height of between 8 and 16 inches. As a draper, possibly with contact on the Continent, is it possible that these scrolls were somehow known? Or, more likely, the predecessor of the Torah, since the images were of a funeral procession…….
    Really interesting post. A reminder of all the work yet to do on a wide variety of predecessors….

  2. Merry Christmas to you Deac!

    This does seem to have escaped the literature – Hermann Hecht didn’t spot it, which is a surprise. It would certainly be good to try and find out more about it. I came across it while reading Ruth Scurr’s John Aubrey: My Own Life, which is an attempt at an autobiography of its subject by pulling together the many fragments of letters and memoirs that he left. She has filled in some of the gaps with her own words and phrasings, which I find annoying, so I went back to an online version of Brief Lives from 1898 for Aubrey’s own words, but it’s possible another edition might have further text.

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