The Baker’s 42 Boxes

I assume that in The Hunting of the Snark the Baker’s 42 boxes may stand for Thomas Cranmer’s 42 Articles. There seem to be several textual references to Cranmer: e.g. the Baker’s “hot” nick names, the profession “Baker” itself.

There also is a pictorial reference to Cranmer’s cruel end in The Hunting of the Snark. And there are pictorial references to depictions of iconoclasm. Cranmer was a vehement iconoclast. That may have influenced Henry Holiday’s choice of sources for his allusions. Examples are Holiday’s reference to The Iconoclasts by Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder and the arrangement of the Baker’s 42 boxes in a way which may be an allusion to the rubble depicted in a iconoclastic scene in the 16th century painting Edward VI and the Pope:

  • [left]: Detail from Henry Holiday’s depiction of the Baker’s 42 boxes in an illustration (engraved by Joseph Swain) to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark.
  • [right]: Anonymous: 2× mirror view of a detail from the propaganda painting Edward VI and the Pope, An Allegory of Reformation, 16th century. Iconoclasm depicted in a window-like inset. Under the inset sits Thomas Cranmer (not visible in this detail but shown in the image below) who wrote the 42 Articles in 1552. In The King’s Bedpost: Reformation and Iconography in a Tudor Group Portrait (1994, p. 72), the late Margaret Aston compared the iconoclastic scene to prints depicting the destruction of the Tower of Babel (Philip Galle after Maarten van Heemskerck, 1567).


Thomas Cranmer and Iconoclasm (2000?, Katharina Petersen):

[…] Cranmer addressed the young Edward at his coronation, “Your majesty is God’s Vice-regent and Christ’s vicar within your own dominions, and to see, with your predecessor Josias, God truly worshiped and idolatry destroyed, the terrain of the Bishops of Rome banished from your subjects, and images removed.” Cranmer saw images as so tainted with idolatry that they should be completely eliminated within the realm. The Archbishop argued that man’s willful ways seduce him from truth and are in direct opposition to God’s commandments, which all Christians are compelled to obey. […]

  • [B&W]: Upper part of Henry Holiday’s illustration (1876) to The Baker’s Tale in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark depicting some of the Baker’s 42 boxes piled up outside the window. In 1552, shortly before the early death of Edward VI, Thomas Cranmer wrote down 42 articles, a protestant doctrine. In Henry Holiday’s depiction of the staple of some of the Baker’s 42 boxes piled up outside of the window of the Baker’s uncle’s room also the number 42 is visible.
  • [color inset]: Segment from a painting Edward VI and the Pope (c. 1570) by an unknown artist. The segment is displayed in a mirrored view. Thomas Cranmer is located on the right side in the mirrored image. (Among other persons in the painting not shown in this segment: Edward VI, Henry VIII).


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