For a Tear is an Intellectual thing;
And a Sigh is the sword of an angel king;
And the bitter groan of a Martyr’s woe
Is an arrow from the Almighty’s bow.
“When does the artistic image appear convincing? When we experience a special psychic state of joy, satisfaction, elevated repose, love or sympathy for the author. This psychic state is the aesthetic evaluation of a work of art. Aesthetic feeling lacks a narrowly utilitarian character; it is disinterested, and in this regard, it is organically bound up with our general conceptions of the beautiful (although, of course, it is narrower than these concepts). The aesthetic evaluation of a work is the criterion of its truthfulness or falseness. Artistic truth is determined and established precisely through such an evaluation.
Art as the Cognition of Life-A Voronsky
Catriona Murray’s Imaging Stuart Family Politics is an award-winning and beautifully illustrated book. It carries with it a significant amount of original research and encompasses a cross-disciplinary approach while maintaining a high academic standard.
Having said that the book suffers a little from a one-sided approach in that it examines the English revolution solely from the standpoint of the monarchy. To her credit Murray rather than examining the images used in the book in isolation, does attempt with varying degrees of success to locate them within the socio-political context of the revolution.
In a convoluted way, Murray’s book shows the class nature of the Stuart dynasty. King Charles I’s use of art to defend his position was a novel solution in his and many eyes, but the fact that it did not succeed was not for want of trying. For all his political acumen which was not a lot King Charles did not understand the class forces he was up against. In pure desperation, he even used his children as propaganda as this cynical quote from Charles states “We are moved both for your sake and the sake of the kingdom itself, over which you are ruling; because as children are a source of solace to parents, thus are they a source of support for kings; for the more children there are, the deeper are the roots, and the more numerous are the supports, upon which the stability of a kingdom rests. This clearly failed, and in the end, like all dictators, he used war to solve his crisis.
“ I hope that my book will encourage scholars to reconsider the significant part of the visual in Stuart politics and to reassess a body of fascinating material which performed a crucial, if, at times, unpredictable, role in early modern public communication”.
Murray recognises that the history of emotions is a very young discipline and that by default her book is a very specialised piece of historical study reflecting the early days of the discipline. Trying to place it in the historiography of the English revolution is, therefore, a complicated task.The book is part of a trend to examine the English revolution, mainly from the standpoint of the monarchy and its use of imagery and religion.The book stands on the shoulders of historians, Roy Strong, Oliver Millar, and Kevin Sharpe.
Again the use of Christopher Hill work would have given the book a better balance. As Hill points parliament and radicals during the revolution were not adverse in using art as a propaganda weapon he states “Politics was invariably expressed in religious language and imagery. (Gerrard) Winstanley used the stories of Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob, to express his class analysis of society; the younger brother would overcome his oppressing elder brother. David and Goliath, Samson and the Philistines, were symbols of revolt against tyranny. Existing corrupt society was designated as Sodom, Egypt, Babylon.
Murray’s study of the use of imagery during the English revolution is a little one-sided. A multi-sided approach to the discipline is needed if one is to use art to cognize the complicated nature of the revolution. Her approach is Conservative, to say the least.
While it is only recently that through the work of the Fred Choate and David North that the work of the great Russian Marxist scholars such as Aleksandr Konstantinovich Voronsky is coming to light, Murray’s book would have a better one if she had at least consulted figures like Voronsky who spent his life examining the role of art in society.
As Voronsky States on page 98 of his book Art as the Cognition of Life “What is art? First of all, art is the cognition of life. Art is not the free play of fantasy, feelings and moods; art is not the expression of merely the subjective sensations and experiences of the poet; art is not assigned the goal of primarily awakening in the reader 'good feelings.' Like science, art cognizes life. Both art and science have the same subject: life, reality. But science analyzes, art synthesizes; science is abstract, art is concrete; science turns to the mind of man, art to his sensual nature. Science cognizes life with the help of concepts, art with the aid of images in the form of living, sensual contemplation."
There is no getting away from the fact that the book is a beautifully illustrated and well-written book. It is hoped that in the future, Murray examines the more complicated use of imagery by parliamentary forces.
 The Royal Correspondence of King James I of England (and VI of Scotland) to his Royal Brother-in-Law, King Christian IV of Denmark, 1603-16, ed. Ronald M. Meldrum (Brighton, 1977), p. 11.
 God and the English Revolution-Author(s): Christopher Hill-Source: History Workshop, No. 17 (Spring, 1984), pp. 19-31-Published by: Oxford University Press