The reform of the Christian Church initiated by Martin Luther in Germany from about 1520 and resulting in the split of the church into Catholic and Protestant sects

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In Britain the Reformation was brought about by Henry VIII. Protestantism was vehemently against all religious imagery and church decoration, and under Henry, and particularly his son Edward VI, the Reformation was followed by a comprehensive destruction, known as iconoclasm, of the rich medieval art and architecture of Britain.

From then until the middle of the eighteenth century, art in Britain consisted almost exclusively of the purely secular form of portraiture. There were some exceptions – such as post-reformation art.