We're doing well – we're now over the £5,000 mark. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed generously to this project so far. But we still have more to do, so please do tell all your friends! In answer to some enquiries I have received, please remember that what we're raising is for the entire project, not just the actual gilding work itself; the overall figure covers the transport of the frame to and from the gilder's studio, the making of a custom-built travel crate, a full-size photographic replica of the painting while it is off display and other admin costs!
The image above shows another detail from the painting. The little girl, Mary Paston, holds a bunch of flowers – the three roses you can see here and a carnation. In the iconography of the time, full-blown roses can imply the fleeting, fragile nature of life – something which blooms for a day then dies. This is sadly appropriate for Mary, who is believed to have died during the painting of this picture. Carnations, on the other hand, can be a symbol of marriage. Is the artist telling us that Mary has married Death?
We're hoping to think more deeply about this and other possible meanings in the painting in our upcoming international research seminar in early April. Norwich Castle and the Yale Center for British Art have invited a group of specialist scholars to come and explore the picture with us. We hope to reap the rewards of this collaboration in our exhibition in 2018!