The Power and the Glorification

The Power and the Glorification: Papal Pretensions and the Art of Propaganda in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    The Power and the Glorification
    Book Description:

    Focusing on a turbulent time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, The Power and the Glorification considers how, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the papacy employed the visual arts to help reinforce Catholic power structures. All means of propaganda were deployed to counter the papacy’s eroding authority in the wake of the Great Schism of 1378 and in response to the upheaval surrounding the Protestant Reformation a century later. In the Vatican and elsewhere in Rome, extensive decorative cycles were commissioned to represent the strength of the church and historical justifications for its supreme authority. Replicating the contemporary viewer’s experience is central to De Jong’s approach, and he encourages readers to consider the works through fifteenth- and sixteenth-century eyes. De Jong argues that most visitors would only have had a limited knowledge of the historical events represented in these works, and would likely have accepted (or been intended to accept) what they saw at face value. With that end in mind, the painters’ advisors did their best to “manipulate” the viewer accordingly, and De Jong discusses their strategies and methods.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-06129-0
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. 1-5)

    With these words, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew,¹ Christ confers upon Peter supreme power to the fullest measure to govern the church. Peter will be Christ’s vicegerent on earth, and whatever he may bind or loosen will be divinely authorized. His position as the supreme head of the church is not transitory but perpetual, and as Christ personally establishes this constitution of the church, it must endure in this specific, divinely instituted way. “Thus,” according toThe Catholic Encyclopedia,“an analysis of Christ’s words shows us that the perpetuity of the office of supreme head is to be reckoned...

    (pp. 6-27)

    The fifteenth century opened with the Roman Catholic Church in serious crisis. For more than a thousand years, it had been teaching that Christ had delegated the full authority to govern his church to Saint Peter and his successors, the popes. As Christ had assigned this power to one man alone, not to all of his apostles, it was fundamental that there could only be one pope at a time. While the church could be represented by a general council (though not in the same way that a modern nation is represented by a parliament), its decisions always needed papal...

  7. 2 THE POPE AND THE KING: Alexander VI and Charles VIII of France
    (pp. 28-43)

    In 1536, Johann Fichard of Frankfurt, traveling through Italy, obtained permission to visit Castel Sant’Angelo (fig. 20).¹ This enormous building on the right bank of the Tiber was originally built as the mausoleum of the Roman emperor Hadrian (117–38), but had long been used as a papal stronghold. For this reason, it was heavily guarded and normally closed to visitors. In his diary, Fichard carefully recorded all the things in the castle he deemed noteworthy. One of them was a loggia with paintings, in a little garden next to the entrance tower: “Next to the lowest part of the...

  8. 3 THE POPE AND THE CITY: Leo X and the Conservators of Rome
    (pp. 44-69)

    During his stay in Rome in 1536, Johann Fichard of Frankfurt visited not only Castel Sant’Angelo but also the Conservators’ Palace, on the Capitoline Hill in the center of the city (figs. 29 and 30). In those days, the Capitoline Piazza looked quite different than it does now (figs. 31 and 32). There was no pavement, and there were only two palaces. To reach either of them, one had to walk through sand and dust, and on rainy days through mud. The famous equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the crowning glory of the piazza, which has recently been replaced...

  9. 4 THE POPE AND THE EMPEROR: Leo X, Clement VII, and Constantine the Great
    (pp. 70-91)

    Around 1580, an anonymous visitor to Rome obtained permission to enter the Vatican Palace. He carefully recorded what he saw, apparently knowing very well what he was writing about. This is how he described one of the rooms (fig. 53):

    There are many paintings in the Hall of Constantine, which is totally covered with them, except for the lower zone, where hanging permanently are tapestries of silk and gold, which were made in Florence by order of the Medici popes. There are three major pictures in this hall, which outdo the others. They show the battle and the day on...

  10. 5 THE POPE AND HIS FAMILY: Paul III and the Farnese
    (pp. 92-117)

    In September 1578, Pope Gregory XIII traveled to Viterbo to worship the Madonna della Quercia in a church near the city. He used the opportunity to tour northern Lazio and visit some of the beautiful villas. One of them was the Farnese Palace in Caprarola (fig. 68), where the pope and his suite arrived on September 11 and stayed for three days. This gave them plenty of time to explore the building and admire its extensive decorations. To the pope’s retinue belonged one Fabio Ardizio, a clergyman and secretary to the owner of the palace, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese.¹ In July...

    (pp. 118-161)

    In April 1587, twenty-two-year-old Aernout van Buchel left his native city of Utrecht in the Netherlands for a long trip that led him, via the German states and Austria, to Italy.¹ He reached Rome on November 9, and stayed through the winter until March 7, 1588. During his sojourn, Van Buchel visited most of Rome’s churches, antique buildings, and other attractions, which he carefully described in his diary. Back in Utrecht, in July 1588, he began to edit his notes, and over a period of at least five years he kept expanding them with information that he gathered from both...

  12. EPILOGUE: The Pope and the Past
    (pp. 162-168)

    During his wanderings through Rome, Aernout van Buchel visited not only the Sala Regia, but also the old papal palace near the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. In one of the audience rooms he observed a twelfth-century painting with an inscription, which he duly described in his report:

    [Pope] Innocent II had a picture painted in the Lateran palace, showing how Emperor Lothar [III] throws himself down at his feet like a vassal and receives from him the imperial crown, with the addition of this verse:

    The king comes before the gates, first swearing to

    uphold the rights of the...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 169-180)
    (pp. 181-188)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 189-191)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 192-192)