This book challenges the popular fallacy that Nonconformity had no use for art, and contests the view that Welsh Nonconformity had a wholly negative effect on the visual arts in Wales. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the visual expression of Nonconformist culture was prolific, and a vital means of maintaining the devotional life of believers and of communicating Nonconformist ideals to those outside the faith. While Reformation doctrine prohibited the use of images in worship, it did not stop Welsh Nonconformists from using art in the service of religion, or from making a positive contribution to the visual culture of Wales.
John Harvey brings together, for the first time, the many types of religious artefacts and ephemera of Welsh Nonconformity, and examines them from art historical, theological, and sociological perspectives. He explodes the myth that chapels were devoid of artistic and symbolic elaborations by analysing the images which decorated chapel and home, commemorated leaders and notable events, and aided the teaching of the faith. Through the study of artefacts ranging from paintings, prints, photographs, sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, to wall decoration and chapel furniture, banners and embroidered works, Bible illustrations and Sunday School picture-cards, the author defines the visual expression of one of the most pervasive cultural and social influences on Wales during the last two centuries. No