Jacobean Wall Hangings

Wall decorations don’t get a lot of attention, as few survive, which makes the reproductions in Hereford’s Black & White House museum really special. In Jacobean times (i.e. the period of James I of England) religious imagery was popular, and this series shows the story of the Prodigal Son, a suitably domestic subject. Here is the younger of two sons claiming his inheritance and setting off from home.

B&W house prodigal 1

He falls into bad company, drinking and running up debts.


He returns home penniless and full of shame



But he is welcomed by his parents who celebrate his safe return, as a wiser man, though his older brother is resentful, as he has been careful with his money. The details in this last panel are wonderful. the bird on the plate seems to be still alive, and the pig’s head looks surprisingly happy.


To show how wonderfully colourful these are, here’s a Tudor interior, from the Gloucester Folk Museum:


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