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246 × 189 × 25 mm
288 pages
113 illustrations, 75 in colour
14 Sep 2020

Scenes and Traces of the English Civil War Stephen Bann

The English Civil War has become a frequent point of reference in contemporary political debate. A bitter and bloody series of conflicts, it shook the very foundations of seventeenth-century Britain. This is the first attempt to portray the visual legacy of this period, as passed down, revisited and periodically reworked over two and a half centuries of subsequent English history.

Highly regarded art historian Stephen Bann deftly interprets the mass of visual evidence accessible today, from ornate tombs and statues to surviving sites of vandalism and iconoclasm, public signage and historical paintings of subjects, events and places.

‘n the din of traffic around Trafalgar Square, it is easy to miss the statue in the middle of the road that flanks it. Tiny in comparison with Nelson’s Column, and often obscured by passing buses, the brass sculpture of a king on horseback is in fact one of the most divisive works of public art in British history. Though America still wrestles with the artistic (and political) legacy of its civil war, the arguments that once raged in Britain about the 'Equestrian Statue of Charles I' have quieted. In Scenes and Traces of the English Civil War, Bann, an art historian, dredges up those old discordances and, in so doing, expects to shed a little light on the country’s 'contemporary political divisions.’ — The Economist

‘Stephen Bann's history tracks visual evidence of the Civil War's lingering presence from the Restoration to the end of the 19th century. His focus is both on what he calls "traces" of the conflict – the visible marks and pointers of memorial inscriptions, monuments, vandalised tombs – and "scenes", images produced in retrospect as part of an ongoing reinterpretation of the war's meaning . . . the latter half of the book, focusing on reconstructed "scenes" of the war as imagined by 19th-century history painters, offers a fascinating account of the growth of interiority in the depiction of Charles and Cromwell.’ — Apollo Magazine

‘This is the mature work of a master scholar, superbly researched and written and pioneering a new field.’ — Ronald E. Hutton, Professor of History at the University of Bristol

‘This book is the product of subtle reasoning and considerable scholarship, dealing not with great art but with a rich seam of visual culture. Like Baudelaire’s flâneur, much of Bann’s research has taken place in the course of his peregrinations, in places that have some connection with the history of the English Civil War. He is attracted by oblique associations, by the vague and elliptical, and has an eye for inscriptions, monuments, equestrian portraits, paintings and architecture. What emerges from this study is how deeply an awareness of the violent reversals of fortune, caused by this war, entered the English psyche, and how continuing operations of memory have ensured its role within the making of an historical national identity.’ — Frances Spalding, CBE, FRSL

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Stephen Bann is Professor in the Department of History of Art at the University of Bristol. He is author of many books including Romanticism and the Rise of History (1995), Paul Delaroche: History Painted (Reaktion, 1997) and Jannis Kounellis (Reaktion, 2003).


1 Speaking Stones: Inscriptions of Identity from Civil War Monuments
2 A Kentish Family in Wartime: The Bargraves of Bifrons
3 Kings on Horseback: Charles I’s Statue at Charing Cross and its Afterlife
4 Whig Views of the Past: Horace Walpole and Co.
5 Illustrating History: Visual Narratives from the Restoration to Hume’s History of England
6 Boots and All: Cromwell Evoked by James Ward and Paul Delaroche
7 French Genre for English Patrons: Paul Delaroche’s Charles I Insulted by the Soldiers of Cromwell
8 A Sense of an Ending: Problems of English History Painting in the Nineteenth Century

List of Illustrations