September 24th, 2021

Something Very Like Conjugal Love

This is the monument to Walter and Barbara Roberts in All Saints church, Brenchley. It's been attributed to Edward Marshall, who succeeded the great Nicholas Stone as sculptor to the King- who by that stage of the game was Charles II.

The composition is conventional- there are lots of similar double portraits in churches up and down the country- but the execution is particularly lively. Nigel Andrew, in his book about English church monuments (The Mother of Beauty: Thorntree Press) directs our attention to the hands- and asks, "is it just me, or is there something erotic about this placing?" and a little further on, "What does this extraordinarily elegant ballet of arms and hands express? Surely it is something very like conjugal love as we understand it?"