Magnificence in the Seventeenth Century

Performing Splendour in Catholic and Protestant Contexts


This volume explores the concept of magnificence as a social construction in seventeenth-century Europe. Although this period is often described as the ‘Age of Magnificence’, thus far no attempts have been made to investigate how the term and the concept of magnificence functioned. The authors focus on the way crucial ethical, religious, political, aesthetic, and cultural developments interacted with thought on magnificence in Catholic and Protestant contexts, analysing spectacular civic and courtly festivities and theatre, impressive displays of painting and sculpture in rich architectural settings, splendid gardens, exclusive etiquette, grand households, and learned treatises of moral philosophy.

Contributors: Lindsay Alberts, Stijn Bussels, Jorge Fernández-Santos, Anne-Madeleine Goulet, Elizabeth den Hartog, Michèle-Caroline Heck, Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, José Eloy Hortal Muñoz, Félix Labrador Arroyo, Victoire Malenfer, Alessandro Metlica, Alessandra Mignatti, Anne-Françoise Morel, Matthias Roick, Kathrin Stocker, Klaas Tindemans, and Gijs Versteegen.

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Gijs Versteegen, Ph.D., is lecturer in early modern history at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Madrid). He researched court philosophy and the reception of court culture in enlightened and liberal historiography, publishing the monograph Corte y Estado en la historiografía liberal: un cambio de paradigma (Madrid: 2015).

Stijn Bussels. Ph.D. (2005, Ghent University) is Professor of Art History at the Leiden University. He has published widely on the intersections between the visual arts, theatre and spectacle in the early modern Low Countries. He is the author of The Antwerp Entry of Prince Philip in 1549. Rhetoric, Performance and Power (Rodopi 2012).

Walter S. Melion is Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History at Emory University. He has published widely on early modern image cultures, on the art and art theory of the Low Countries, on scriptural image-making, on emblems and emblematics, and on Jesuit image theory.

List of Illustrations
Notes on the Editors
Notes on the Contributors

Gijs Versteegen and Stijn Bussels

Part 1: Traditions of Thought on Magnificence

1 Early Modern Readings of Aristotle’s Theory of Magnificence in the Ethics
Matthias Roick

2 Medieval Background to Magnificence in Habsburg Spain: King Solomon as Enduring Exemplar of Divine Worship
Jorge Fernández-Santos

3 Magnificence between Effect of Power and Power of Effect
Michèle-Caroline Heck

Part 2: The Court and Aristocracy

4 The Hall of Realms, a Space for Royal Magnificence
Miguel Hermoso Cuesta

5 Magnificence, Power, and Private Finance in the Seventeenth Century: Flavio Orsini and Marie-Anne de La Trémoille, between Rome and Paris (1675–1686)
Anne-Madeleine Goulet

6 The Magnificence of the Royal Household and Royal Sites: The Case of the Spanish Monarchy
Félix Labrador Arroyo and José Eloy Hortal Muñoz

7 Educating Magnificence: Juan Eusebio Nieremberg on Ascesis and Splendour in his Manual for the Reales Estudios of the Colegio Imperial at Madrid
Gijs Versteegen

Part 3: Architecture

8 Building Magnificence in the Dutch Golden Age: the Amsterdam Town Hall
Stijn Bussels and Bram Van Oostveldt

9 Maiestate Tantum: Spiritual Magnificence at the Cappella dei Principi
Lindsay Alberts

10 Magnificence Exemplified: the Restoration of the Old St. Paul’s London
Anne-Françoise Morel

11 Magnificent! Gaspar Fagel’s Plant Collection at Leeuwenhorst
Elizabeth den Hartog

Part 4: Performance

12 Magnificence and Atticism in Seventeenth-Century Venice
Alessandro Metlica

13 Magnificence and Regality in Milanese Celebratory Sets: The Birth of Balthasar Charles and Exequies in the Epoch of Philip IV
Alessandra Mignatti

14 The Ducal Stage: Festive Culture and the Display of Magnificence in Seventeenth-Century Württemberg
Kathrin Stocker

15 The Libertine Subversion of the Masque: The Case of John Wilmot’s Lucina’s Rape
Klaas Tindemans

16 Magnificence as Aesthetic Category in Court Plays: Molière’s Les Amants Magnifiques (The Magnificent Lovers)
Victoire Malenfer

Index Nominum
This volume is of interest to scholars, researchers and students in the fields of early modern (art) history and philosophy as well as performance studies. Keywords: magnificence, art, architecture, history, performance, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy, theatre, garden history, royal household, seventeenth century, nobility.
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