"These Very Pictures Will Surmount My Wealth": Aesthetic and Economic Competitions in Thomas Heywood's If You Know Not Me, II.
A description is only a shadow, received by the eare, but not perceived by the eye; so lively portraiture is merely a forme seene by the eyes, but can neither shew action, passion, motion, or any other gesture to move the spirits of the beholder to admiration: but to see a souldier shap 'd like a souldier, walke, speake, act like a souldier... Oh, these were sights to make an Alexander! --Thomas Heywood, Apology for Actors (1)
When Thomas Heywood argued in Apology for Actors (1612) that theater's ability to "shew action, passion, motion, or any other gesture" made the stage superior to description and portraiture, he was participating in a classical form of debate known as the paragone. The paragone compares the virtues of various art forms in a rhetorical competition for supremacy. (2) For example, visual art and literature often compete for which medium can best represent nature, although historically the competition is also held between art forms such as painting and sculpture. (3) The paragone appeared in ancient Rome, the Italian Renaissance, and eventually emerged in late sixteenth-century England through rhetorical manuals such as Philip Sidney's An Apology for Poetry (1579) and George Puttenham's Arte of English Poesy (1589). (4) Writers modified the paragone in each of these historical contexts; according to Clark Hulse, "The language of the paragone is by nature a social discourse, bound up in local forces and reflecting the particular artistic practices of each region where it appeared." (5) Reflecting his own artistic practices, Heywood modified the paragone for the London stage, thereby performing the aesthetic and rhetorical debates of traditional competitions. (6)
Heywood's staged paragoni position theater in competition with other kinds of art while incorporating contemporary economic and social concerns. Early modern economists in England grappled with marketplace competitions between native exports and foreign imports as trade with foreign merchants rapidly expanded in the early seventeenth century, situating London among other world cities as a center of commercial activity. (7) Yet, Heywood does not stage economic debates as competitions per se. Instead, he invites his audience to think about how seemingly competitive aesthetic and economic forces combine to create something superior to either individual force. For Heywood, the theater appropriates lesser art forms to generate its own superiority, and similarly London appropriates foreign commodities to claim its status as a superior cosmopolitan city. These aesthetic and economic competitions notably occur in Heywood's If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody, Part Two (1605). The play showcases an escalating series of paragoni between poetry, portraits, sculptures, and theater, where each art form raises questions about economic wealth as it takes on either native or foreign status. Primarily, the paragoni underscore the inferiority of static arts compared to the dynamic action of the theater. By focusing on the ways in which paragoni between art objects on Heywood's stage dovetail with contemporaneous aesthetic and economic concerns, this article aims to better understand how early modern English playwrights promoted their own art in an increasingly cosmopolitan city.
Despite the popularity of pictures in England following the Reformation, prevailing modern criticism surrounding art objects on the stage during that period assumes a general absence of art and of visual culture. Leonard Barkan perpetuates this line of criticism in an influential essay that declares, "Theatre is England's lively pictorial culture, the answer, the compensation, the supplement, in the face of all the painting, sculpture, and art theory that was so famously alive in the European civilizations that Elizabethans dreamed about." (8) Twenty-first-century critics follow in the wake of Barkan's sentiment, as they frequently note the underdevelopment of art in England compared to the continent. While a few scholars, such as Frederick Kiefer and David Howarth, attribute the absence of images to Queen Elizabeth's and King James's preferences for words over pictures, more often scholars attribute England's stunted visual culture to the lasting effect of the Reformation. (9) The perceived absence of visual art in early modern England, combined with critical focus on the Reformation, has obscured how pictures on stage functioned as commodities. Only recently have critics begun to dispute this understanding of pictures in the playhouse. Chloe Porter, for example, explores early modern playwrights' fascination with artwork in progress, and she argues that such objects draw attention to a developing visual culture that was being re-formed. (10) In this article I argue that the development of England's visual culture is tied to the development of its economy, which was undergoing its own process of re-formation as the market shifted from local to global networks of trade. In doing so I revisit Barkan's claim that "[t]heatre is England's lively pictorial culture" in order to emphasize the sense in which Heywood aligns the dynamic theatrical arts with native identity in opposition to static foreign art forms.
If You Know Not Me, II is traditionally understood as a celebration of merchants and merchant activity in London. Critics agree to varying degrees with Brian Gibbons's assertion that the play is "a piece of banal mercantile hagiography." (11) Some scholars argue that the play redeems English merchants by authenticating their role in the city, (12) while others widen the geographical scope to argue that the play "valorizes those merchant adventurers who expand trade and capital beyond England's boundaries." (13) Following this global turn, critics also examine how the play decentralizes London to address issues of nascent capitalism. (14) On the whole, criticism of the play intersects with a mercantilist understanding, as Heywood takes up the dynamic relationships between sovereign and merchant, court and citizen, and local and national histories that point to evolving ideological attitudes toward personal and national wealth. (15) More recently, however, scholars have started to examine the complications that arise in If You Know Not Me, II's celebration of mercantilism, such as Thomas Gresham's aristocratic attitude toward money "that is utterly at odds with mercantile evaluation," (16) or the play's problematic characterization of Gresham that ignores the more questionable aspects of the historical figure. (17) While issues of mercantilism as well as local and global trade are well documented in the critical history of the play, critics have not significantly addressed the prevalence of art objects and how they leverage the play's focus on economic systems and global trade networks. (18) My purpose is to examine the artistic and economic markets that intersect throughout the play. In doing so, I call attention to the ways in which theater reflected and participated in competitions engendered by London's burgeoning cosmopolitan identity. This article examines three moments in the play that display art on stage and the competitions they evoke as the art objects increase in their degree of animation. (19) I begin with a paragone between poetry and portraits, proceed to a contest between poetry and sculpture, and end with a competition between theater and the previously staged art objects. In each instance, I examine how questions about economic and cultural relationships relevant to London's emerging cosmopolitanism are staged through paragone about art.
In order to understand how Heywood creates value for art on stage, we must first understand how value for art objects is determined in the market. As a commodity, the worth of an art object is broadly determined through two systems of value, economic and cultural. (20) In an economic value system, commodities are the goods exchanged for other things, typically money. However, the exchange rate between money and goods was unpredictable in the early modern economy. Economists in the period identified this unpredictability, along with trade imbalance and coin shortages, as the primary causes of England's depression in the 1620s. Gerard de Malynes, for example, attributed England's economic trouble to what he viewed as the export of money from the realm. (21) Edward Misselden emphasized that the forces of supply and demand not only dictate the value for money and goods, but they also influence the kind of goods imported into the country. (22) Thomas Mun devoted an entire chapter to decreasing foreign spending in order to increase English wealth. Mun advises, "We may likewise diminish our importations if we would soberly refrain from excessive consumption of forraign wares in our diet and raiment, with such often changes of fashion as is used, so much the more to increase the waste and charge; which vices at this present are more notorious amongst us than in former ages." (23) In the same pamphlet, Mun introduces the concept of "balance of trade," which cautions readers about the broader consequences of local market transactions. Similarly, Thomas Milles championed what he called "traffick" (the steady circulation of coin and commodity) as the right path to economic prosperity, drawing gold and silver into the realm from other countries. (24) Each of these economists points to the symbiotic relationship between native and foreign goods as a major influence in the global economy. Though such assessments of the global economy did not appear in print until the 1620s, the forces shaping the relationship between native and foreign commodities began as early as 1540, when England began to foster the native production of foreign goods in an attempt to reduce English spending on imported wares. (25)
Despite these efforts, English elites still favored foreign goods. While an economic system of value works strictly through processes of exchange, a cultural system of value works on the premise that commodities "must be not only produced materially as things, but also culturally marked as a certain kind of thing." (26) Commodities become valuable through their association with the tastes of elite classes, generating high culture. High culture also relies on a symbiotic relationship, as Pierre Bourdieu notes, "Distinction and pretension, high culture and middle-brow culture... only exist through each other... It is in these struggles between objectively complicit opponents that the value of culture is generated, or, which amounts to the same thing, belief in the value of culture... although one of the effects of the game is to induce belief in the innateness of the desire to play and the pleasure of playing." (27) Early seventeenth-century elite English tastes favored foreign commodities, which increased the cultural value of foreign goods. For instance, the cultural value of pictures grew "as they increasingly became the medium of exchange between ambassadors and favorites, kings and courtiers, and clients and patrons." (28) Following the court fashion, a new figure emerged within the aristocracy--the virtuoso. The virtuoso's role, according to Lawrence Stone, "was to offer talented but politically thwarted or indifferent noblemen an alternative outlet for their surplus time, energy, and wealth. If denied an important official position, they could devote themselves to antiquarian research, architectural and pseudo-scientific experiment, and the collection of books, paintings, and objets d'art." (29)
Satisfying the virtuoso's appetite for art relied on England's trade expansion, which amplified contact with foreign art markets and increased the variety of work available to collectors. English virtuosi depended on individuals with international positions, such as court-appointed ambassadors, to facilitate sales. (30)
Due to the virtuosi's dependence on foreign trade, the art market magnified London's growing cosmopolitanism. The elite, as Linda Levy Peck points out, "increasingly identified themselves as cosmopolitan through the appropriation of continental luxuries." (31) Foreign art in particular became fashionable among elites early in King James's reign, generating cultural value for pictures of all kinds. (32) Portraits especially became culturally valuable and wealthy Londoners commissioned foreign artists for their own portraits in a variety of mediums, including oil paintings, funeral monuments, miniatures, and medals. (33) According to Catherine Richardson, "owning a portrait of oneself was a key marker of the borderline of elite status." (34) Merchants, craftsmen, and livery companies likewise commissioned portraits of company magistrates and benefactors painted by foreign artists for display in the guildhalls. (35) Even though Parliament established laws to protect native artistic production, English elites stubbornly preferred foreign art and artists. (36) As James Stourton notes, "The British, insular in so many respects, were at their most Europhile through art collecting." (37) Not only were foreign-made portraits themselves incorporated into London's civic culture, but also they captured other evidence of its increasing cosmopolitanism through the foreign fashion and commodities displayed in the paintings. In fact, Thomas Gresham's own full-length portrait serves as a good example of a civic portrait that highlights London's global engagement (See Figure 1). Gresham's fine lace collar and cuffs are possibly products of Flanders or France, the gloves he clutches are likely from Italy, while the skull cast on its side was a popular trend in Flemish art during the period. Gresham's attire in the portrait, coupled with the composition of the portrait itself, crafts a visual narrative that blends native and foreign influences. The appropriation of foreign art into civic culture highlights the ways in which London displayed its status as a cosmopolitan city that eagerly incorporated foreign influences available through global trade. (38)
As the fashion for foreign commodities increased more generally throughout the early seventeenth century, Heywood reflected on these interests by staging paragoni between elite art forms and theater in If You Know Not Me, II. The first paragone occurs during a gallery tour of citizen portraits hanging in Saint Paul's Cathedral. Doctor Nowell, the Dean of Saint Paul's, invites Thomas Gresham, Thomas Ramsey, and Hobson, the haberdasher, to view "A Gallerie, wherein [he] keepe[s] the Pictures / Of many charitable Citizens" (6.760-61). (39) As the group studies the portraits of six London citizens, Nowell describes their charitable deeds with emphasis on their civic contributions. Some of the portraits' subjects built institutions for the poor, while others funded the education of orphans, "Leaving for Tutors 50. li. a yeare, / and Quarterly for every one a Noble" (6.842-43). Nowell assumes the role of the poet, crafting a narrative that underscores the accomplishments of the citizen in each portrait as the group moves through the gallery. He concludes the tour by emphasizing, "A number more there are, of whose good deeds / This Citie florisht" (6.809-10). Jean E. Howard observes that the portraits "form a civic honor roll" that educates playgoers in the history of their city. (40) While the portraits function didactically to teach civic history to playgoers, the gallery tour also underscores the portrait's inability to adequately represent and preserve civic achievement. Instead, Nowell's words highlight the sitters' actions, conveying information about the sitters otherwise impossible to portray through a portrait.
In fact, at the conclusion of the tour, when the group comments on the gallery as a source of inspiration, they credit Nowell's words for their impact rather than the portraits themselves. Hobson remarks, "I thinke these words should make a man of flint / To mend his life" (6.867-68). Thomas Gresham reveals that his visit to the gallery "[has] started teares into my eyes, / And M. D. Nowell you shall see / The words that you have spoke, have wrought effect in me" (6.869-71). By having the group favor Nowell's poetic description rather than the material portraits, Hey wood creates a paragone between poetry and painting that suggests poetry is the superior medium. Rather than call attention to the painter's brush strokes or the sitter's hair in an attempt to re-create the portrait through description, Nowell focuses on each citizen's "good deeds." His words emphasize action and motion, something that paintings, and portraits in particular, cannot access. The gallery tour, understood as "a ritualized group consumption in which viewing paintings is a theatrical and social experience," (41) is reimagined by Heywood to emphasize the ways in which viewing paintings and hearing narratives is, in fact, not theatrical. Heywood praises the dynamic activity conveyed through poetry over the pictures hanging motionless in the gallery.
In addition to the competition between poetry and pictures, the paragone Heywood models in the gallery scene suggests that the best representation of wealth is a combination of money and commodities. Heywood creates a sense of permanence around the citizens' charitable actions by emphasizing the buildings that still stood in London at the time of the play's performance and showcasing even smaller commodities such as a gold chain, "That by the Ma[y]or succeeding should be worne; /.../ And is continued e[v]en [u]nto this yeare" (6.806-8). The buildings, as well as the gold chain, materialize the citizen's economic wealth, uniting money and commodity. Like the sitters' charitable actions that function both as "a form of poor relief and a means of securing status," as Anita Gilman Sherman argues, the portraits also serve a dual purpose. (42) The portraits integrate economic and aesthetic concerns as they materialize their sitters' economic wealth, much like the buildings and goods they gave to the city. The portraits ensure that their actions will be preserved through art, creating a durable physical reminder of the citizen that cannot be emulated by anonymously circulating money.
Heywood further underscores the integration of money and commodities near the end of the scene as Gresham remarks on his own economic wealth, referring to himself and his cohort as, "We that are Citizens are rich as they were" (6.813). Moments later, Gresham continues his reflection, this time considering commodities: "And yet wee live like beasts, spend time and die, /Leaving no good to be remembred by" (6.818-19). The "good" that Gresham refers to is ambiguous, pointing either to the moral good of charity or to the material good of commodities. By blurring the distinction between material and moral "good," Heywood combines money and commodities as representations of wealth. In this sense, Heywood emphasizes that the integration of money and commodity is the best representation of wealth, pointing to the ways that this reciprocal relationship is vital to enhancing the city's cosmopolitan status.
At the same time as the gallery scene illuminates competitions between forms of art and the integration of money and commodities, it also raises questions about English identity in an increasingly cosmopolitan city by foregrounding the fluctuating relationship between native and foreign goods. Though the subject of the first portrait, John Philipot, raised an army that "guarded the Realme / From the incursions of our enemies," Nowell is otherwise silent regarding the world beyond London (6.773-74). Instead, he emphasizes the local establishments that the exemplary citizens improved, such as the Library at Gray-Friars, Whittington College, Saint Bartholomew's in Smithfield, and Newgate prison (6.793-97). While this scene positions the portraits in a London-centric context, it was seldom the case that English artists painted portraits of elite figures. Either foreign artists were commissioned in London or the citizens had their portraits painted while they were abroad. In this sense, the portraits combine native and foreign identities into a single commodity, appropriating the paintings' foreign origins into a celebration of London citizens. By mixing native and foreign status, Heywood foregrounds an increased cosmopolitan identity for London. Importantly, Heywood also underscores art as a key contributor to the city's imagined identity as a successful international city. By staging a gallery tour of citizen portraiture, Heywood navigates a series of aesthetic and economic relationships that simultaneously integrate civic narratives with foreign commodities.
While Heywood initially celebrates the history of London's civic economy that flourished through its citizens' contributions, his interests subsequently turn in the play to the national and global markets as he foregrounds the native and foreign buildings where merchants conducted trade. In Scene Nine, two Lords excitedly compare London's Royal Exchange to its counterparts in Constantinople, Rome, and Frankfurt, declaring London's new marketplace unparalleled. According to the Lords, even St. Mark's in Venice:
T'is but a bable if compar'd to this. The nearest that which most resembles this, Is the great Burse in Antwerpe, yet not comparable Either in height or wideness: the faire Sellerage, Or goodly shoppes above. (9.1370-74)
While the prominence of the building itself is superior to any in the world, the Lords also identify a series of statues, "From Brute unto our Queene Elizabeth: / Drawne in white marble," as a large part of what makes the Exchange superior to the other foreign marketplaces (10.1491-92). The statues are yet to be installed, but the men eagerly anticipate the figures, remarking:
But when to fit these emptie rooms about here, The pictures graven of all the English Kings Shall be set over and in order plac'st, How glorious will it then be? (9.1386-89)
Whereas the citizen portraits from the previous scene prompted a civic history of London, the statues of royalty in the Exchange glorify not only the building, but also England's national history. Importantly, the statues themselves are luxury art objects, designed to ornament and enhance the building that will eventually sell fashionable, and often foreign, commodities in its shops; thus the luxury of the building itself hints at the luxury available within.
Between the Lords' anticipation of the statues' arrival and their comparisons of the Royal Exchange to its foreign counterparts, this scene develops a paragone between words and sculpture similar to the competition in the gallery at St. Paul's between words and portraits. Yet the Lords also emphasize that the rooms where the statues will be placed are currently empty. In fact, although the Royal Exchange was completed in 1565 and the statues are depicted in Frans Hogenberg's 1569 engraving of the building, they were not yet installed when the play was performed in 1605. (43) (See Figure 2). In the absence of the statues, the Lords are left to rely on words to describe the superiority of the Exchange over other global marketplaces. The Lords progress from the building's grandness to its ornamental statues to describe the latter as symbols of national wealth. However, only when the statues are installed will they contribute to the glory of the building and position England as a superior force on the global market. By featuring absent statues in this scene, Heywood emphasizes the ability of ornamental commodities such as art objects to materialize England's wealth more completely than mere spoken words.
Like the competition between words and portraits in Nowell's gallery, the competition between words and statues further integrates money with commodities. Heywood makes this imbrication clear through Thomas Ramsey's interjection in the Lords' description of the statues: "These very pictures will surmount my wealth" (9.1391). Heywood explicitly underscores the correlation between economic wealth and material wealth, inviting the playhouse audience to create multiple layers of value for the statues. First, Heywood creates economic value for the statues since they are superior to money in that they "surmount" Ramsey's wealth, meaning that as a commodity, they are more valuable for what they symbolize than an equal amount of money. Second, Heywood generates cultural value for the statues as ornaments for the Exchange and these statues materialize England's national wealth. Third, the statues literally sit atop a source of wealth in England's marketplace, the Exchange. Finally, Heywood produces both economic and aesthetic value for the statues in a global, not just local, context. Heywood suggests that it is precisely because of the statues' combined native and foreign identities that they elevate London to the status of a world city.
In addition to paragoni between art forms and economic relationships, the building and its statues call attention to other areas of friction between civic and national identity that are linked to the native and foreign economies in the period. The tension between civic and national identities arises in the building's title, initially called "Gresham's Burse," a name that enhances the building's civic identity. However, when Queen Elizabeth visited the building in January 1571, she renamed it the Royal Exchange, claiming the marketplace for crown and country. (44) In renaming the London marketplace, Queen Elizabeth appropriated the Exchange and brought it into a national context that superseded the building's association with the city and its merchant citizens. (45) In this sense, the royal statues in the play parallel the citizen portraits from Nowell's gallery. However, rather than celebrate civic achievement, the statues of England's kings and queen emphasize national identity. The Lords' discussion positions the Royal Exchange in a contest with its foreign counterparts. The buildings that house each marketplace compete for grandness of scale just as their parent nations compete for success on the global market. The statues ornament an already grandiose building and, according to the Lords, the statues will increase the Exchange's prestige among foreign marketplace as symbols of England's abundant wealth.
However, like the portraits, the statues were not native commodities, a fact that underscores the vexed relationship between native and foreign goods in a global economy. Historically speaking, the statues of English kings set to ornament the Royal Exchange were commissioned from foreign artists. (46) In addition, the design, materials, and labor used to construct the Exchange were imported. (47) Although the artist, as well as marble that composed the statues, were foreign, they depicted English royalty, were commissioned by an English patron, and were paid for with English money. Consequently, the statues mediate between competing forces, as Heywood points to the ways in which London appropriated foreign commodities, and art objects in particular, to identify itself as a cosmopolitan city. Through the Exchange, enhanced by its ornamental statues, Heywood invites his audience to imagine a wondrous vision of a cosmopolitan London ready to take its place among other capitals of mercantilism.
Heywood's interest in England's burgeoning role in the global economy culminates in a climactic paragone between sculpture and theater that continues to illustrate the competitions between aesthetic mediums and the questions they raise about economic and international relationships. During a banquet at Gresham's home, amid foreign ambassadors and members of the English gentry, a Merchant informs Gresham that the ships transporting the statues intended to crown the Royal Exchange were "wrack't and lost" in a storm at sea. (48) Gresham responds by calling upon a jeweler who circulated among the foreign ambassadors advertising a sizeable pearl for sale:
Let's see thy pearle: goe pound it in a Morter, Beate it to powder then returne it me, What Dukes, and Lordes, and these Ambassadours Have even before our face refused to purchase As of too high a price to venture on, Gresham a London Marchant here will buy. (10.1543-48)
In a rapid succession of events, Gresham buys the pearl, demands it be crushed to a fine powder, orders his goblet filled "till the brim or'e-flows," and drinks the pearl with a toast to Queen Elizabeth (10.1550). This action, indicative of theater itself, generates a paragone between static and dynamic art forms, as it displays England's superior economic wealth over the other countries whose ambassadors deemed the pearl too expensive for purchase. Like the portraits and the statues in the previous scenes, through the process of exchange Heywood transforms a foreign pearl into a symbol of England's superior position on the global market.
By inviting his audience to think about value through the unrecoverable loss of the statues' destruction, Gresham also instructs them on how to value theater. Gresham's drinking the pearl is a highly dramatic gesture that performs the paragone between theater and other art forms that Heywood argued for in Apology for Actors and which serves as an epigraph to this essay: "A description is only a shadow, received by the eare, but not perceived by the eye; so lively portraiture is merely a forme seene by the eyes, but can neither shew action, passion, motion, or any other gesture to move the spirits of the beholder to admiration: but to see a souldier shap'd like a souldier, walke, speake, act like a souldier... Oh, these were sights to make an Alexander!" (49) Drinking the pearl crucially hinges on performance to recuperate the otherwise devastating loss of the statues. Whereas the statues in the Exchange and the portraits displayed in St. Paul's offer mere representations of actions and superiority, Gresham's drinking the pearl gives the audience of ambassadors and nobility the primary experience of a spectacular action. Such direct experience symbolizes the theater. Gresham even emphasizes the action as a spectacle that performs his attitude toward the loss of the statues, and ultimately the pearl itself. After imbibing the pearl, he declares, "I doe not this as prodigall of my wealth, / Rather to shew how I esteeme that losse / Which cannot be regain'd" (10.1559-61). Drinking the pearl transforms the prized jewel from mere material commodity into theatrical spectacle, emphasizing the superiority of dynamic action over static art. My reading of this scene departs from other critics who traditionally discuss this scene exclusively in terms of aristocratic wealth. (50) In contrast, I view this scene as a symbolic stand-in for the theater that creates a sense of progressive animation through the different art forms Heywood incorporates into the play. The gesture of drinking the pearl, indicative of theater, replaces the statues as the crowning achievement of England's marketplace. Instead, Heywood positions theater as the superior art form to the statues lost at sea.
Like the other scenes portraying paragoni between art objects, Heywood again foregrounds the relationship between money and commodities in the pearl scene. Upon hearing the news of the statues, Gresham unhesitatingly proclaims to his guests: "The Losse, I way not this: / Onely it greeves me that my famous building, / Shall want so rich and faire an ornament" (10.1494--96). He even declares, perhaps melodramatically: "I car'd not to have lost their waights in gold" (10.1503). (51) Gresham's response compares the loss of material goods with the loss of money, again creating a sense of hybridity in material goods--ornamental, foreign commodities in particular--as representations of English economic wealth. The pearl, for which Gresham ostentatiously pays 16,000 pounds, blends together both money and commodity in a single object (10.1551). However, in the absence of the statues, Gresham's gesture of drinking the pearl effectively replaces the marble statues with an action that performs, rather than merely represents, economic wealth. This dynamic substitution elevates theater to the level of ornament, thus positioning it as a commodity like other elite art forms. Moreover, Heywood suggests that theater offers an enduring representation of wealth that is more effective than static portraits and more successful than lost statues.
Ingesting the pearl also calls explicit attention to the fusion of native and foreign commodities that, up to this point, Heywood has only obliquely gestured toward with other art objects. In being bought, ground, and consumed, the jewel integrates foreign commodity--"Orient and round, weighing so many carets / That it can scares be valewed,"--with native consumer (10.1463-64). This scene explicitly points to the other foreign art objects displayed by the English through economic exchange throughout the play. The pearl and its foreign association is transformed into something hybrid, both native and foreign, as it is absorbed into Gresham's body. Similarly, Gresham's gesture prompts his own transformation as he acquires his own hybrid status. Earlier in the play, Heywood emphasizes Gresham's civic identity as a London citizen as "rich as they come," but on the heels of imbibing the pearl, Gresham is declared "an honour to all English M[e]rchants" (6.813, 10.1556). Drinking the pearl, as Jean E. Howard argues, is "a display of sprezzatura that defines [Gresham] as, indeed, a royal merchant, a knight of commerce, in short, a walking oxymoron, something new and almost indefinable." (52) In this sense, Gresham's action unifies civic and national identities as he balances the dual identities of London citizen and English merchant. Like the statues intended to crown the Exchange, the pearl is a foreign commodity that demonstrates England's preoccupation with imported goods. While contemporary economists viewed this preoccupation as a source of England's economic difficulties, Heywood's pearl scene offers an alternative assessment, illustrating the role foreign commodities played in enhancing London's civic economy. This gesture celebrates London as a cosmopolitan capital, in part because of its citizens' charitable actions that in this scene transform into elite spectacle. Moreover, this scene unifies the multi-layered competitions that Heywood deals with in the play, since drinking the pearl effectively produces a union between money and commodity as well as native and foreign economic identities through the performance of consumption.
While the art objects staged throughout If You Know Not Me, II culminate in Gresham's spectacular action, the portraits and statues also intertwine art with economic interests. Heywood illustrates the ways in which theater, like a strong national economy, adopts its sources of competition and, precisely because of this appropriation, surpasses its rivals. Heywood seems to grant portraiture an elite position, since at the end of the play the citizen portraits remain hanging in St. Paul's while the royal statues meant for the Exchange lay in ruin at the bottom of the ocean, as both Joachim Frenk and Ceri Sullivan point out. (53) However, that observation fails to take into account theater as a surviving art. Metatheatrically speaking, Heywood's play endures, providing playgoers with a dynamic experience of Gresham's civic and national achievements rather than simply hearing about them while viewing portraits of citizens at St. Paul's or statues of kings in the Royal Exchange. The theater offers a dynamic representation of civic and national power that the other art forms staged in the play simply cannot access. By staging paragoni between art forms, Heywood creates an analogy between the processes through which theater is a hybrid of other art forms and generates a positive vision of an international London ready to take its place among other world capitals of mercantilism.
Reading If You Know Not Me, II for the ways in which it attends to the negotiation between aesthetic and economic interests illuminates theater's role in reflecting the shifting processes of value creation precipitated by the emergent global economy, as well as London's emergence as a world city. Thomas Heywood manipulates the classical paragone device to elevate theater to the level of other, privileged forms of fine art by demonstrating the ways in which theater encompasses its aesthetic competition in an approach that also addresses contemporary questions about economic relationships and civic identity on a global stage. By paying attention to what is exchanged instead of where and by whom in a play centered on English economic history, we can begin to see how playwrights viewed their own medium both aesthetically and commercially. If You Know Not Me, II plays out economic anxieties and tensions through aesthetic form, while at the same time insisting on the superiority of English theater precisely because of its ability to appropriate other mediums, just as London appropriates foreign commodities to achieve the status of a cosmopolitan city.
I wish to express my gratitude to Adam Zucker, Jane Degenhardt, and Monika Schmitter for their comments on earlier versions of this essay. I am also indebted to Daniel McGloin, Sivan Grunfeld, Gregory Sargent, Anne-Claire Simpson, Katelyn Litterer, and Amanda Waugh Lagi for their generous feedback.
(1.) Thomas Heywood, Apology for Actors, (London: Nicholas Oakes, 1612), 20-21.
(2.) Moshe Barasch, Theories of Art: 1. Plato to Winckelmann (New York: Routledge, 2000), 165.
(3.) Claire Farago. "Paragone." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.
(4.) For a discussion of the paragone in Roman rhetorical manuals, see Jas Eisner and Michael Meyer, Art and Rhetoric in Roman Culture (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 2014), 27. For examples of the paragone in English rhetorical manuals, see George Puttenham, Art of English Poesy, (London: Richard Field, 1589) and Philip Sidney, An Apologie for Poetrie, (London: Henry Olney, 1595).
(5.) Clark Hulse, The Rule of Art: Literature and Painting in the Renaissance, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 10.
(6.) Scholars often turn to the debate between the poet and the painter in Shakespeare's Timon of Athens as an example of the paragone on stage. See Jennifer A. Royston, "Mute Poem, Speaking Picture: The Personification of the Paragone in Shakespeare's Timon of Athens," Personification: Embodying Meaning and Emotion, eds. Walter S. Mellon and Bart Ramakers (Boston: Brill, 2016), 337-53 and Anthony Blunt, "An Echo of the 'Paragone' in Shakespeare," Journal of the Warburg Institute 2.3 (1968): 260-62.
(7.) Robert Brenner, "The Dynamics of Commercial Development, 1550-1640: A Reinterpretation," Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London's Overseas Traders, 1550-1653 (London: Verso, 2003), 3-50.
(8.) Leonard Barkan, "Making Pictures Speak: Renaissance Art, Elizabethan Literature, and Modern Scholarship," Renaissance Quarterly 48, 2 (1995): 338.
(9.) Frederick Kiefer, Staging Shakespeare's Personified Characters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) and David Howarth, Images of Rule: Art and Politics in the English Renaissance, 1485-1649 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). For discussion of the effect of the Reformation on theatrical practices, see Huston Diehl, Staging Reform, Reforming the Stage: Protestantism and Popular Theater in Early Modern England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997); Michael O'Connell, The Idolatrous Eye: Iconoclasm and Theater in Early-Modern England (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); and Marguerite A. Tassi, The Scandal of Images: Iconoclasm, Eroticism, and Painting in Early Modern English Drama (Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 2005).
(10.) Chloe Porter, Making and Unmaking in Early Modern English Drama: Spectators, Aesthetics, and Incompletion (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 2.
(11.) Brian Gibbons, Jacobean City Comedy (London: Methuen, 1980), 118.
(12.) Alexander Leggatt, Citizen Comedy in the Age of Shakespeare (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), 20-24; Edward T. Bonahue Jr., "Social Control, the City, and the Market: Heywood's 2 If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody" Renaissance Papers (1993): 75-90, 78.
(13.) Theodora A. Jankowski, "Historicizing and Legitimizing Capitalism: Thomas Heywood's Edward IV and If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody" Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 7 (1995): 305-37, 308.
(14.) Jesus Lopez-Pelaez Casellas, " 'What News From Barbary?': Nascent Capitalism, North Africans and the Construction of Identity in Thomas Heywood's Drama," Atlantis 29, 1 (2007): 123; Andrew Griffin, "Thomas Heywood and London Exceptionalism," Studies in Philology 110, 1 (2013): 85. See also Barbara Sebek, "'After My Humble Dutie Remembered': Factors and / Versus Merchants," Emissaries in Early Modern Literature and Culture: Mediation, Transmission, Traffic, 1550-1700, eds. Brinda Charry and Gitanjali Shahani (Farnham:Ashgate, 2009), 113; Bradley D. Ryner, "The Performativity of Economic Models: Thomas Heywood's If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody Part II and Philip Massinger's The Picture," Performing Economic Thought: Mercantile Writing and Drama 1600-1642, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), 188.
(15.) For examples, see Theodore B. Leinwand, "Credit Crunch" Theatre, Finance and Society in Early Modern England, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 23-31; Joachim Frenk, "The Semantic Battle for Ownership in Heywood's 2 If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody" Realigning Renaissance Culture: Intrusion and Adjustment in Early Modern Drama eds. Stephan Laque and Enno Ruge (Trier: WVT, Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2004), 33; Anita Gilman Sherman, "The Status of Charity in Thomas Heywood's If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody II." Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 12 (1999): 99; and Jean E. Howard, "Competing Ideologies of Commerce in Thomas Heywood's If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody, Part II," The Culture of Capital: Property, Cities, and Knowledge in Early Modern England, ed. Henry S. Turner (New York: Routledge, 2002), 163.
(16.) David Hawkes, "Thomas Gresham's Law, Jane Shore's Mercy: Value and Class in the Plays of Thomas Heywood" ELH 77, 1 (2010): 25, 35; Jean E. Howard, "Staging Commercial London: The Royal Exchange," Theatre of a City: The Places of London Comedy, 1598-1643 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 29.
(17.) Ceri Sullivan, "If You Know Not Me (2) and Commercial Revue," The Rhetoric of Credit: Merchants in Early Modern Writing, (Madison: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2002), 87; Charles W. Crupi, "Reading Nascent Capitalism in Part II of Thomas Heywood's If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody," Texas Studies in Literature and Language 46, 3 (2004): 296.
(18.) Brian Sheerin discusses Heywood's interest in artistic and economic theory, but does not discuss art objects within this relationship. Brian Sheerin, "Good Credit and the Maintenance of Desire in Hey wood's Apology for Actors and If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody, Part II," Desires of Credit in Early Modern Theory and Drama: Commerce, Poesy, and the Profitable Imagination, (New York: Routledge, 2016), 73.
(19.) George R. Kernodle, From Art to Theatre: Form and Convention in the Renaissance. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944), 1-9.
(20.) Igor Kopytoff, "The Cultural Biography of Things," The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, ed. Arun Appadurai (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 64.
(21.) Joyce Oldham Appleby, Economic Thought and Ideology in Seventeenth-Century England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 42. See Gerard Malynes, The Center of the Circle of Commmerce (London: William Jones, 1623) and The Maintenance of Free Trade (London: I. Legatt, 1622).
(22.) Edward Misselden, The Circle of Commerce. Or the Ballance of Trade in Defense of Free Trade. (London: John Dawson, 1623), C4v-D3r.
(23.) Thomas Mun, English Treasure by Forraign Trade or, The Balance of Our Forraign Trade is the Rule of Our Treasure (London: J.G., 1664), B8v.
(24.) Thomas Milles, The Customer's Alphabet and Primer (London: William Jones, 1608), G2r.
(25.) Joan Thirsk, Economic Policy and Projects: The Development of a Consumer Society in Early Modem England (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1978), 1-23.
(26.) Kopytoff, "Cultural Biography of Things," 64.
(27.) Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010), 247-48.
(28.) Linda Levy Peck, Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 162.
(29.) Lawrence Stone, The Crisis of the Aristocracy, 1558-1641 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), 721.
(30.) Requests for art were made to William Trumbull, ambassador to the Low Countries, see Peck, Consuming Splendor, 168. Sir Dudley Carleton, Venetian ambassador, was integral to Italian art collection for English nobility, see Robert Hill, "The Ambassador as Art Agent: Sir Dudley Carleton and Jacobean Collecting," The Evolution of English Collecting, ed. Edward Chaney (New Haven: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art by Yale University Press, 2003), 241.
(31.) Peck, Consuming Splendor, 18.
(32.) Ibid., 166.
(33.) Although portraits had always played a key role in disseminating the royal image, in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, interest in the visual arts spread to nobles, gentry, and even civic communities. See Kevin Sharpe, Image Wars: Promoting Kings and Commonwealths in England, 1603-1660 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 58; Robert Tittler, The Face of the City: Civic Portraiture and Civic Identity in Early Modern England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007), 47-56, and Tarnya Cooper, Citizen Portrait: Portrait Painting and the Urban Elite of Tudor and Jacobean England and Wales (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 118.
(34.) Catherine Richardson, Shakespeare and Material Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 86.
(35.) In 1598 the Haberdashers ordered that the Company's Wardens have ten paintings of the Company's benefactors for display in the hall. In the decades that followed, numerous other companies made similar requests. Tittler, Face of the City, 55-56.
(36.) Pictures were so popular that in 1604 Parliament attempted to resolve a dispute between the Companies of the Painter-Stainers and the Plasterers. The resolution distinguished between house painting and decorative arts in an effort to define each trade and protect the native production of popular commodities. For more on this, see Michael North and David Ormrod, Art Markets in Europe, 1400-1800 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998), 170.
(37.) James Stourton, British as Art Collectors (London: Scala, 2012), 8.
(38.) For a wonderful overview of early modern attitudes toward the "globalization" of London, see Crystal Bartolovich, '"Baseless Fabric': London as 'World City,'" "The Tempest" and Its Travels, eds. Peter Hulme and William H. Sherman (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 13-26.
(39.) Thomas Hey wood, If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody, Part Two. Ed. Madeleine Doran. London: Printed for the Malone Society by J. Johnson at the Oxford University Press, 1935.
(40.) Howard, "Competing Ideologies of Commerce," 170.
(41.) Hulse, The Rule of Art, 1.
(42.) Sherman, "The Status of Charity," 103.
(43.) Both Ceri Sullivan and Joachim Frenk discuss the absence of the statues. See Sullivan, "Commercial Review," 101 and Frenk, "The Semantic Battle for Ownership," 42.
(44.) Hey wood stages Queen Elizabeth's visit and naming of the Exchange in Scene Thirteen of the play, in which the Queen justifies naming the building in honor of the state because of the stateliness of the structure (13.2104).
(45.) Frenk, "The Semantic Battle for Ownership," 48.
(46.) Correspondence between Gresham and his factor indicates that Queen Elizabeth's statue was created in Antwerp. See John William Burgon, The Life & Times of Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange: Including Notices of Many of His Contemporaries (London: E. Wilson, 1839), 119.
(47.) Marjorie Rubright, "London as Palimpsest: The Anglo-Dutch Royal Exchange," Doppelganger Dilemmas: Anglo-Dutch Relations in Early Modern English Literature and Culture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 162.
(48.) I have found nothing to confirm that any of the statues were ever lost or damaged in transport. Their destruction was invented to enhance the issues of loss and recovery raised by the play more broadly.
(49.) Heywood, Apology, 20-21.
(50.) Crupi, "Reading Nascent Capitalism," 299; Howard, "Staging Commercial London," 55-57.
(51.) For a discussion of how this scene positions wealth in relation to use-value and exchange-value, see David Hawkes, "Thomas Gresham's Law, Jane Shore's Mercy: Value and Class in the Plays of Thomas Heywood," ELH 77, 1 (2010): 35.
(52.) Howard, "Staging Commercial London," 56 and Crupi, "Reading Nascent Capitalism," 289.
(53.) Frenk, "The Semantic Battle for Ownership," 42 and Sullivan, "Commercial Review," 101.
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--. If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody, Part Two. Ed. Madeleine Doran.
London: Printed for the Malone Society by J. Johnson at the Oxford University Press, 1935.
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--. "Staging Commercial London: The Royal Exchange." In Theatre of a City: The Places of London City Comedy, 1598-1642, 29-67. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.
Howarth, David. Images of Rule: Art and Politics in the English Renaissance, 1485-1649. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Hulse, Clark. The Rule of Art: Literature and Painting in the Renaissance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Jankowski, Theodora A. "Historicizing and Legitimizing Capitalism: Thomas Heywood's Edward IV and If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody" Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 1 (1995): 305-37.
Kernodle, George R. From Art to Theatre: Form and Convention in the Renaissance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944.
Kiefer, Frederick. Staging Shakespeare's Personified Characters. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Kopytoff, Igor. "The Cultural Biography of Things." In The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, ed. Arun Appadurai, 64-91. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Leggatt, Alexander. Citizen Comedy in the Age of Shakespeare. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973.
Leinwand, Theodore B. "Credit Crunch." In Theatre, Finance and Society in Early Modern England, 23-31. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Malynes, Gerard. The Center of the Circle of Commerce. London: William Jones, 1623.
--. The Maintenance of Free Trade. London: I. Legatt, 1622.
Milles, Thomas. The Customer's Alphabet and Primer. London, 1608, G2r.
Misselden, Edward. The Circle of Commerce. London: John Dawson, 1623.
Mun, Thomas. English Treasure by Forraign Trade or The Balance of Our Forraign Trade is the Rule of Our Treasure. London: J.G., 1664.
North, Michael and David Ormrod. Art Markets in Europe, 1400-1800. Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998.
O'Connell, Michael. The Idolatrous Eye: Iconoclasm and Theater in Early-Modern England. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Peck, Linda Levy. Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Porter, Chloe. Making and Unmaking in Early Modern English Drama: Spectators, Aesthetics, and Incompletion. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013.
Puttenham, George. Art of English Poesy. London: Richard Field, 1589.
Richardson, Catherine. Shakespeare and Material Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Royston, Jennifer A. "Mute Poem, Speaking Picture: The Personification of the Paragone in Shakespeare's Timon of Athens." In Personification: Embodying Meaning and Emotion, Eds. Walter S. Mellon and Bart Ramakers, 337-53. Boston: Brill, 2016.
Rubright, Majorie. "London as Palimpsest: The Anglo-Dutch Royal Exchange." In Doppleganer Dilemmas: Anglo-Dutch Relations in Early Modern English Literature and Culture, 162-188. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.
Ryner, Bradley D. "The Performativity of Economic Models: Thomas Heywood's If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody Part II and Philip Massinger's The Picture." In Performing Economic Thought: Mercantile Writing and Drama 1600-1642, 188-212. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Sebek, Barbara. " 'After My Humble Dutie Remembered': Factors and / Versus Merchants." In Emissaries in Early Modern Literature and Culture: Mediation, Transmission, Traffic, 1550-1700, eds. Brinda Charry and Gitanjali Shahani, 113-28. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009.
Sharpe, Kevin. Image Wars: Kings and Commonwealths in England, 1603-1660. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.
Sheerin, Brian. "Good Credit and the Maintenance of Desire in Heywood's Apology for Actors and If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody, Part II." In Desires of Credit in Early Modern Theory and Drama: Commerce, Poesy, and the Profitable Imagination, 73-91. New York: Routledge, 2016.
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Stone, Lawrence. The Crisis of the Aristocracy, 1558-1641. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965.
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Tittler, Robert. The Face of the City: Civic Portraiture and Civic Identity in Early Modem England. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007.
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|Publication:||Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2019|
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