Quid est sacramentum?

Visual Representation of Sacred Mysteries in Early Modern Europe, 1400–1700


‘Quid est sacramentum?’ Visual Representation of Sacred Mysteries in Early Modern Europe, 1400–1700 investigates how sacred mysteries (in Latin, sacramenta or mysteria) were visualized in a wide range of media, including illustrated religious literature such as catechisms, prayerbooks, meditative treatises, and emblem books, produced in Italy, France, and the Low Countries between ca. 1500 and 1700. The contributors ask why the mysteries of faith and, in particular, sacramental mysteries were construed as amenable to processes of representation and figuration, and why the resultant images were thought capable of engaging mortal eyes, minds, and hearts. Mysteries by their very nature appeal to the spirit, rather than to sense or reason, since they operate beyond the limitations of the human faculties; and yet, the visual and literary arts served as vehicles for the dissemination of these mysteries and for prompting reflection upon them.

Contributors: David Areford, AnnMarie Micikas Bridges, Mette Birkedal Bruun, James Clifton, Anna Dlabačková, Wim François, Robert Kendrick, Aiden Kumler, Noria Litaker, Walter S. Melion, Lars Cyril Nørgaard, Elizabeth Pastan, Donna Sadler, Alexa Sand, Tanya Tiffany, Lee Palmer Wandel, Geert Warner, Bronwen Wilson, and Elliott Wise.

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Walter S. Melion, Ph.D. (1988), is Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History at Emory University, where he also directs the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. He has published extensively on Northern art and art theory and on Jesuit image theory.
Elizabeth Carson Pastan, Ph.D. (1986) is Professor of Art History at Emory University, and President of the American Committee of the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi, the body of scholars devoted to the study of stained glass. A medievalist, she has published extensively on stained glass and issues of patronage, as well as the Bayeux Embroidery.
Lee Palmer Wandel, Ph.D. (1985), is the WARF Michael Baxandall and Linda and Stanley Sher Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She has published extensively on the Reformation, including books on poor relief, iconoclasm, and the liturgy.
List of Illustrations
Notes on the Editors
Notes on the Contributors

1 Quid est sacramentum?: Introduction
Walter S. Melion

Part 1: Representing the Sacraments

2 Counterfeiting the Eucharist in Late Medieval Life and Art
Aden Kumler

3 Vestments in the Mass
Lee Palmer Wandel

4 ‘In the Flesh a Mirror of Spiritual Blessings’: Calvin’s Defence of the Lord’s Supper as a Visual Accommodation
AnnMarie M. Bridges

5 ‘Mystery’ or ‘Sacrament’: Ephesians 5:32, the Sacrament of Marriage in Early Modern Biblical Scholarship, and Nicolas Poussin’s Visual Exegesis
Wim François

6 Hoc Est Corpus Meum: Whole-Body Catacomb Saints and Eucharistic Doctrine in Baroque Bavaria
Noria K. Litaker

7 Staging Sacramental Consolation in Vienna
Robert L. Kendrick

Part 2: Sacramental Modes of Representation

8 Seeing beyond Signs: Allegorical Explanations of the Mass in Medieval Dutch Literature
Anna Dlabačová

9 Representing Architecture in the Altarpiece: Fictions, Strategies, and Mysteries
Elizabeth Carson Pastan

10 Orchestrating Polyphony at the Altar: Passion Altarpieces in Late Medieval France
Donna L. Sadler

11 God’s Design: Painting and Piety in the Vida of Estefanía de la Encarnación (ca. 1597–1665)
Tanya J. Tiffany

12 Amber, Blood, and the Holy Face of Jesus: the Materiality of Devotion in Late Medieval Bruges
Elliott D. Wise and Matthew Havili

13 Anchoring the Appearance of the Sacred: the Abbot of Choisy & His Translation of the Imitatio Christi (1692)
Lars Cyril Nørgaard

14 Spiritual and Material Conversions: Federico Barocci’s Christ and Mary Magdalene
Bronwen Wilson

Part 3: Representing Divine Presence and the Mysteries of Faith

15 The Fine Art of Dying: Envisioning Death in the Somme le Roi Tradition
Alexa Sand

16 Christ Child Creator
David S. Areford

17 Lady Scripture’s Sacred Commitments: Dialogic Understanding in Dutch Religious Literature of the Late Fifteenth Century
Geert Warnar

18 Coemeterium Schola: the Emblematic Imagery of Death in Jan David, S.J.’s Veridicus Christianus
Walter S. Melion

19 The Limits of ‘Mute Theology’: Charles Le Brun’s Lecture on Nicolas Poussin’s Ecstasy of Saint Paul Revisited
James Clifton

20 A Private Mystery: Looking at Philippe de Champaigne’s Annunciation for the Hôtel de Chavigny
Mette Birkedal Bruun

Index Nominum
Art historians, historians, religious historians, scholars of visual culture, theologians, liturgists. Keywords: mystery, mysterium, sacrament, sacramentum, visual representation, visual discernment, enigma, parable, hermeneutics, christology, infancy, passion, resurrection, eucharist.
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