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Journal > Volumes > 53 (2022) / 2 (Summer)
The Kindness of Strangers: New Testament Imagery and the Restoration of the Monarchy in the Chirk Cabinet
Barbara A. Kaminska
Sam Houston State University

This essay discusses the decoration of a Flemish art cabinet gifted by Charles II to his supporter Sir Thomas Myddelton after the Restoration of the monarchy. I analyze how the so-called Chirk Cabinet uses the images of the seven works of mercy and other biblical stories to express Charles’s gratitude to the royalists and to legitimize the restored monarchy. By discussing connections between the cabinet’s imagery and Charles’s life, I show that the cabinet constructs a providential narrative that presents Charles as a monarch with the right to rule that is God-given and manifested itself in his trials and tribulations, and his eventual triumph. Finally, by examining the visual and haptic engagement that the Chirk Cabinet demanded from its viewers, I demonstrate that the cabinet’s sections’ dynamic metamorphoses and kinetic transitions reenacted the transformation of the exiled heir to the throne into the divinely anointed king.

Pages: 351 - 378