Jesuit Art

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Mia M. Mochizuki
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Part 1: Introduction

1.1 Jesuit Art

What is Jesuit art?1 A person could answer: objects made by and for Jesuits; the decoration of Jesuit churches; or simply the physical remnants of the Society of Jesus, from the confirmation of the order by Pope Paul III (1468–1549, r.1534–49) on September 27, 1540 to its suppression by Pope Clement XIV (1705–74, r.1769–74) on July 21, 1773. None of these definitions would be wrong, but they fail to do justice to its extraordinary breadth. In fact, the category “Jesuit art” has been used to encompass objects made by Jesuit artists and workshops, commissioned by Jesuit patrons, closely associated with Jesuit devotion, transported by Jesuits, and merely focused on Jesuit-related subject matter. It ranges from the dizzying heights of monumental church architecture and decoration to ephemeral engravings, bridging European and extra-European sites of production. This introduction therefore begins with selections from a spectrum of early modern Jesuit art, not always acknowledged, since art historical investigation emerges from questions posed by the works themselves, before situating them within a thumbnail sketch of their art historical context and major resources for their study. However, the geographic and media expansion of the Society’s art-related activities changes not only the objects under analysis; it also affects the kinds of queries that arise. In the pages that follow, readers are forewarned not to expect a monograph on an aspect of Jesuit art, a survey of standard styles and iconographies, or a précis of literature on the topic. Instead, in keeping with the aims of the Brill Research Perspectives series, this volume will assess the signature structural innovations of Jesuit art in the history of the image, a subject that has remained under the radar even in a well-trodden field, to provide a productive framework for further exploration.2

As a starting point for a reconsideration of Jesuit art, the monumental retable by Br. Andrea Pozzo (1642–1709) in the Chapel of St. Ignatius of the Church of the Gesù in Rome—St. Ignatius Receiving the Banner with the Monogram of the Name of Jesus from the Resurrected Christ (c.1696–1700)—is about as Jesuit as a work of art can be (figs. 1.1–1.2).3 It is an object that depicts St. Ignatius of Loyola (c.1491–1556) being tasked by Jesus to form the Society of Jesus, commissioned for the order, painted by a Jesuit artist, in the chapel of the order’s founding saint, within its mother church. The painting is presented as part of a wall that proposes a cosmic, inexorable narrative for the coming of the Society to the world initiated by the sculptural grouping of the Trinity (1726) by Lorenzo Ottoni (1658–1736) and Bernardino Ludovisi (1693–1749), the figures conversing over a massive lapis lazuli globe girded across top and middle with bronze bands, the globus cruciger, a sign of God’s dominion over the world dating back to the Roman Empire. In the painting, Ignatius receives the banner with the monogram of the Society from Jesus, who rests his left hand on a cerulean blue globus cruciger. Underneath, an angel holds a book open to the words “In nomine Iesu, omne genu flectatur”—a reference to Philippians 2:10: “So that at the name of Jesus / every knee should bend, / in heaven and on earth and under the earth”—and the allegorical figures of the four continents kneel in response to the name of Jesus.4 The causal connection between the Society and the world is then made explicit in the sculptural groupings to either side of the altar: the founding of the order by St. Ignatius above has culminated in the triumph of the church over universal heterodoxy below, sending Pierre Le Gros the Younger’s (1666–1719) Religion Defeating Heresy (1695–99) on the right and Jean-Baptiste Théodon’s (1645–1713) Faith Defeating Idolatry (1695–99) on the left, complete with the converted king of the Congo, scuttling to the corners. All manner of heretics and idols are trampled: Faith’s foot crushes a book entitled “Cames fotoque amida et xaca,” the Latinized version of the Portuguese names for Japanese and Chinese gods, and Religion and her putto tear out the pages of books authored by “Luther,” “Calvin,” and “Zwingli.” In a Jesuit artist’s vision, the creation of the Society was positioned at the juncture where the Reformation met the world, an appropriate characterization for the variety of objects spanning media, techniques, and cultures that would become integral parts of the heritage of Jesuit art.

Figure 1.1
Figure 1.1

Andrea Pozzo, St. Ignatius Receiving the Banner with the Monogram of the Name of Jesus from the Resurrected Christ, c.1696–1700, oil on canvas. Rome, Church of the Gesù, Chapel of St. Ignatius

Photo: © Zeno Colantoni
Figure 1.2
Figure 1.2

Andrea Pozzo (renovation design and painting), Chapel of St. Ignatius, Church of the Gesù, Rome, 1695–1700

Photo: © Zeno Colantoni

One of the prime distinguishing features of Jesuit art was the launch of artistic workshops around the globe, in the process setting up the first system of worldwide production for art. At the farthest point from Europe, a studio under the leadership of Br. Giovanni Niccolò (or Giovanni Cola, 1560–1626), who trained in the atelier of Giovanni Bernardo Lama (1508–79) in Naples before entering the order, was founded in Japan in 1583.5 At the highpoint of the Niccolò School’s almost quarter-century of existence, it was responsible for much of the art and books in all the Society’s missions from Goa eastward. It was never an autonomous academy; an artistic training was part of the Jesuit education of the whole person, or cura personalis, which involved painting, printmaking, and the manufacture of clocks and musical instruments (organ, viola d’arco, harp, lute, viola semplice, and harpsichord), alongside theology, Latin, music, theater, and literature, as chronicled by Luís Frois (1532–97) in a letter from Nagasaki (December 13, 1596).6 Niccolò School artists painted the Madonna and Child with the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary and Saints Ignatius, Francis Xavier, Matthias, and Lucy (c.1590–1614) in the Kyoto University Art Museum, whose double-decker scaffolding features the Madonna and Christ Child, Jesus holding the globus cruciger in benediction, with Saints Ignatius and Francis Xavier (1506–52) in prayer before the host and chalice centered above the monogram of the Society (fig. 1.3).7 Scenes of the fifteen mysteries of the rosary ring the perimeter—the five joys of the incarnation of Christ on the left side, the five sorrows of the passion and death of Christ across the top, and the five glories of the resurrection and reign of Christ in heaven with Mary on the right side—to present a pictorial compendium of the life of Christ derived from the Gospel of St. Luke.8 This is a picture of Jesuits praising the sacrament of the Eucharist, designed by a Jesuit workshop, to spark catechesis and devotion on a Jesuit mission, art in many ways as central to the Jesuit enterprise as the Gesù. And from an art historical standpoint, the Niccolò workshop was the first place where western subject matter and compositions, as well as techniques of oil painting and copper engraving, were introduced to Japanese audiences.9

Figure 1.3
Figure 1.3

Niccolò School, Madonna and Child with the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary and Saints Ignatius, Francis Xavier, Matthias, and Lucy, c.1590–1614, oil, Japanese colors, and ink (sumi) on bamboo paper. Kyoto, Kyoto University Museum

Photo: © Kyoto University Museum

But Jesuit art was not restricted to Jesuit artists and workshops. Leading figures, such as Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) and Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), enjoyed long-standing ties with the Society and executed masterpieces for Jesuit patrons. The result was paintings like the magnificent pendant portraits of the Miracles of St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier (c.1617–18), made for the Jesuit Church of St. Charles Borromeo in Antwerp (figs. 1.4–1.5).10 The pair represented the founder and chief missionary of the Society as active, can-do saints, larger than life miracle-workers whose deeds moved beyond the expression of faith in the ceiling paintings to promise societal renewal in real time. The subject matter, location, and patronage of these paintings situates them among the foremost examples of Jesuit art. In addition to intramural artistic activity, the early Society of Jesus endorsed a patronage of the arts that was as distinguished by the quality of its imagery as it was by its quantity, as seen in the publishing houses of Antwerp, where the Society maintained close commercial and personal ties with individual presses, like the Plantin-Moretus Press, and artistic dynasties involved in the industry, such as the Wierix family, whose designs and engravings decorated numerous Jesuit books.11 A nephew of the publisher Jan I Moretus (1543–1610), a son of Pieter Moretus (or Moerentorf, 1544–1616) and Henrica (or Henriette) Plantin (c.1561–1640) named Theodor Moretus (1602–67), would become an esteemed Jesuit mathematician, physicist, and author of a book in defense of the immaculate conception, Principatus incomparabilis primi filii hominis, Messiae, et primae parentis Matris Virginis in conceptione illius immaculata exhibitus (Exhibited empire of the incomparable, most excellent Son of Man, the Messiah, and of the noble parent, the Virgin Mother, immaculate in the conception of that [Son] [Cologne: Johann Busäus, 1671]).12 Jesuit-commissioned art shows that the roots of the Society in society-at-large ran deep, intricately interwoven around collaborative projects and mutual interests.

Figure 1.4
Figure 1.4

Peter Paul Rubens, The Miracles of St. Ignatius of Loyola, c.1617–18, oil on canvas (inv. no. GG 517). Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

Photo: © KHM -Museumsverband
Figure 1.5
Figure 1.5

Peter Paul Rubens, The Miracles of St. Francis Xavier, c.1617–18, oil on canvas (inv. no. GG 519). Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

Photo: © KHM -Museumsverband

Aside from the art that was initiated by Jesuits, a body of work exists surrounding objects closely identified with Jesuit devotion, such as the highly venerated Salus Populi Romani Madonna, the “Protectress of the Roman People,” housed in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, an Italo-Byzantine icon reputed to have been painted by St. Luke on a tabletop built by the young Jesus between the sixth and tenth centuries.13 On the morning after the election of the first Jesuit pope (March 14, 2013), Pope Francis I (r.2013–) paid an unannounced visit to the Salus Populi Romani Madonna to ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for his pontificate; a photograph captures another moment of prayer with the icon before his apostolic visit to Brazil for World Youth Day later the same year (July 20, 2013) (fig. 1.6). His devotion to this picture reflected a long-standing Jesuit veneration of this image. Already on November 5, 1566, the spiritual diary of St. Francisco de Borja (1510–71), third superior general of the Society of Jesus (in office 1565–72), reads: “Day of dedication etc. Consolation before an image of the Madonna,” suggesting that Borja visited the Salus Populi Romani Madonna on his return from the Basilica of St. John the Lateran.14 The fifth superior general, Claudio Acquaviva (1543–1615, in office 1581–1615), made a pilgrimage every Saturday to see the painting. Cardinal Francisco de Toledo (1532–96, in office 1593–96), the first Jesuit cardinal, also went to Santa Maria Maggiore weekly to celebrate Mass, and when he passed away on September 14, 1596, he left an annual benefice to ensure its continuation, with two candles to be lit before the icon every twelve days.15 By the seventeenth century, the Salus Populi Romani Madonna was ranked second only to the wonder-working image of Loreto, out of the twelve hundred miraculous Marian images cited in the definitive edition of Wilhelm Gumppenberg’s (1609–75) Atlas Marianus (Marian atlas [Munich: Johann Jaecklin, 1672]), leaving no doubt that images to which Jesuits nurtured a special devotion were also integral to the cultural imagination of the early modern Society of Jesus.16

Figure 1.6
Figure 1.6

Pope Francis I in prayer before the Salus Populi Romani Madonna, July 20, 2013. Rome, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Pauline Chapel

Photo: © Servizio Fotografico Vaticano

Jesuits, however, were not only great creators and profound appreciators of art; they were also the prodigious mediators of the time, and it was through their transportation of objects across the high seas that western art spread farther than ever before. Like Helen of Troy, the Salus Populi Romani Madonna was the “face that would launch a thousand ships,” and its fame in the theatrum mundi (theater of the world) was due to the logistics of Jesuits moving from town to town and region to region until they had crisscrossed the globe.17 An anonymous Portuguese artist’s Portrait of Blessed Inácio de Azevedo with the Salus Populi Romani Madonna from the turn of the seventeenth century testifies to what can already be adduced from the many objects whose subject matter, compositional quotations, and occasional techniques can be found in partially local vernaculars (fig. 1.7).18 In this image, Blessed Inácio de Azevedo (1526–70), appointed provincial of Brazil by Borja in 1569, only to meet an untimely end soon after as one of the “Forty Martyrs of Brazil” when Calvinist sympathizers captured his convoy, displays a copy of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna, at just under body-size, enlarged to a multiple of the original before the sidelined human figure.19 The unusual scale of its depiction speaks to the empowerment of this image-within-an-image in a compositional hierarchy ranked by pictorial mobility: the progression into depth moves from the “Virgin Azevediana,” so valuable that the provincial supposedly held on to it as he went overboard; to the caped stagehand of a Jesuit cultural mediator; and lastly, the vehicle of connection, an ocean-worthy Portuguese caravel.20 Together, this unlikely trifecta of icon with its human and mechanical means of conveyance triangulates one of the most consequential problems sixteenth-century exploration has posed for art history: how the global circulation of objects affected the way art shaped ideas.

Figure 1.7
Figure 1.7

Portuguese School, Portrait of Blessed Inácio de Azevedo with the Salus Populi Romani Madonna, late sixteenth century–early seventeenth century, oil on canvas. Lisbon, Private Collection

Photo: Inês Correia de Matos

Outside Europe, Jesuits were objects of curiosity, and images from many cultures signal an interest in the Jesuit missionaries who began to appear in their countries. So Jesuit-related art could reasonably comprise not only those objects yielded from trans-cultural contact prompted by Jesuits, but also images of Jesuits in non-European art, what is generally referred to as the distinction between “global” and “world” art in the art historical lexicon. For example, an exceptional pair of screens by Kanō Naizen (1570–1616), Departure of a Ship from a Western Port and Arrival of a Ship in a Japanese Port, late sixteenth to early seventeenth century, document the appearance of black-cloaked and biretta-topped Jesuits in Japan (fig. 1.8). They appear on the left screen among the crowds gathered for the departure of the ship from a Christian port city, one complete with a chapel whose altar features a Salvator mundi (Savior of the world), and disconcertingly, a monstrance with host on the rooftop of another building, and on the right screen, interspersed throughout the landscape of a Japanese coastal town, like Nagasaki, where the ship docks. In just one vertical excerpt from the right screen, from top to bottom, a Jesuit, joined by two companions, responds to a request, with other Japanese and Jesuit figures in attendance (fig. 1.9). Golden clouds part to expose a Mass for Japanese converts before another Salvator mundi altarpiece, the host raised by the celebrant now portrayed with the heft of a gold ball, as if to stress its import. Jesuits go about their daily business, engaged with a cross-section of local society: Japanese men and women, Portuguese merchants in their signature bombasha balloon-shaped pantaloons, and the distinctive gray hooded habit of Franciscan friars. A shopkeeper pokes her head outside and beckons the group to come into her shop filled with curios, from exotic animals, like tigers and peacocks, to bolts of fabric, rare ceramic-ware, and small sculptures, a snapshot of objects linked to the arrival of western “black ships” (kurofune) in Japan. Representations of Jesuits disclose how others saw them, and the primary evidence of the responses they engendered is as critical to understanding the order as the Society’s stated intentions.

Figure 1.8
Figure 1.8

Kanō Naizen, Departure of a Ship from a Western Port and Arrival of a Ship in a Japanese Port, late sixteenth–early seventeenth century, pair of six-part screens, Japanese colors and gold leaf on paper. Kobe, Kobe City Museum

Photo: © Kobe City Museum
Figure 1.9
Figure 1.9

Kanō Naizen, Departure of a Ship from a Western Port and Arrival of a Ship in a Japanese Port, detail of right third of bottom screen, late sixteenth–early seventeenth century, pair of six-part screens, Japanese colors and gold leaf on paper. Kobe, Kobe City Museum

Photo: © Kobe City Museum

Pictures with Jesuit protagonists could also assume a decidedly negative slant, conspicuously in areas hostile to Catholicism and/or Jesuit engagement with local politics, with the various strands of anti-Jesuit polemic adopting increasingly antagonistic positions in the lead up to the suppression of the Society in 1773.21 The tone could be satirical, as in an English seventeenth-century woodcut Title Page for a secretly printed book by John Taylor (1580–1653), A Delicate, Dainty, Damnable Dialogue, between the Devill and a Jesuite (London: I.H. [Thomas Banks], 1642), where the Jesuit priest goes so far as to share a table with the devil, hand of reason countenancing black claw as a caution against the slippery slope of tolerance (fig. 1.10). Taylor’s barb parodies the Jesuit reputation for carefully honed rhetoric, which pundits panned as specious rationalizations, leading to charges of casuistry. Jesuits were denounced as dissemblers, liars, and spies, an association still preserved in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of the adjective “jesuitical” as “one given to intrigue or equivocation.”22 In an Allegory of the Church, an eighteenth-century Peruvian artist was yet more explicit in how the putative partnership between the devil and a Jesuit could disintegrate quickly: a horned figure hoists his alleged ally into a cauldron of fire to the consternation of an observant angel (fig. 1.11). Mary and the Christ Child are enthroned on a colonial carpet in the midst of a rocky Andean landscape before a crumbling cathedral, while a guardian angel leads a native woman to them in a pointed warning of the certain demise of a church that neglects indigenous communities. Even scathing critiques must be valued as critical resources for the light they shed on how Jesuits and their actions were viewed by contemporaries.

Figure 1.10
Figure 1.10

Title Page, 1642, woodcut, in John Taylor, A Delicate, Dainty, Damnable Dialogue, between the Devill and a Jesuite (London: I.H. [Thomas Banks], 1642) (inv. no. F60112–12, Shelfmark: E.142.[8]). London, by kind permission of the British Library

Photo: © The British Library Board
Figure 1.11
Figure 1.11

Peruvian Artist, Allegory of the Church, eighteenth century, oil on canvas. Lima, Colección Barbosa-Stern

© Colección Barbosa-Stern. Photo: Daniel Gianonni

Other Jesuit-related objects candidly advertise a connection to the Society, like the many items that possess the monogram “IHS,” an abbreviation of the Greek name of Jesus. European paintings transported by Jesuits around the world could be physically and conceptually reframed by local artisans under the Society’s imprimatur, as in the pediment of a urushi lacquerware frame of a Madonna and Child Hanging Shrine (c.1583–1614), and this insignia was regularly emblazoned on everyday objects, like missal stands and writing boxes (fig. 1.12).23 In effect, the “IHS” initials acted as the visual equivalent to the wax Seal of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus (c.1550), affixed to official Jesuit documents, whose moon and stars refer to the universal worship stirred by the name of Jesus in Philippians 2:10 (fig. 1.13).24 On a practical level, a conspicuous imprint, whether cipher or seal, identified a diverse group of objects that had been made, distributed, and reformatted by the Society, while from a theoretical perspective, it drove home the order’s commitment to the naming of Jesus and the efficacy of its rhetorical invocation, broadcasting the idea seen in Pozzo’s St. Ignatius Receiving the Banner with the Monogram of the Name of Jesus from the Resurrected Christ in every bandwidth large and small (fig. 1.1). In the desire to surmount the distractions of individual circumstance, the application of Jesuit signs was no different from the attempt to craft a collective identity from the contributing personae of the late sixteenth-century First Companions of St. Ignatius, whose group portrait, literally and figuratively, was vital to the retrospective burnishing of the early Society with providential causation (fig. 1.14).25 Items stamped by Jesuit custom afford insight into the complexities of negotiating cultural and historical identity that confronted a new order on the world stage.

Figure 1.12
Figure 1.12

Italian Artist (painting) and Japanese Artist (frame), Madonna and Child Hanging Shrine, c.1583–1614, oil on copper in lacquerware wooden frame with gold, silver, and mother of pearl. Sardoal, Santa Casa da Misericórdia do Sardoal

© Santa Casa da Misericórdia do Sardoal. Photo: Nuno Fevereiro
Figure 1.13
Figure 1.13

Anonymous, Seal of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, c.1550, bronze and wood. Rome, Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu

Photo: © Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu
Figure 1.14
Figure 1.14

Anonymous, The First Companions of St. Ignatius, late sixteenth century, red chalk on paper. Rome, Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu

Photo: © Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu

A closer look at the constituents of Jesuit art thus registers a remarkably disparate group. Objects can range from multimedia church installations to a book-sized piece of paper or broadsheet, from oil painting on wood, canvas, and copper to colored inks on paper, from the hard shells of lacquerware to the hazy silhouettes of chalk drawing that threaten to disintegrate at the slightest touch. They can be made by Jesuits, commissioned and printed at the behest of the order’s administrators, or only connected to the Society by their usage. Jesuits cultivated particular holy images and transported art for promotional, devotional, catechetical, and didactic purposes. They served not only as makers and agents of art, but also as subject matter in their own right, both as figures of intrigue and rebuked villains. The Jesuit connection could function as a statement of ownership, an expression of cultural engagement, and an ideological venture. There was no typical kind of Jesuit art: the category defies a set of artists, one country or region, and a sole period, style, or medium. If there is any commonality extant in the Jesuit relationship to art across such a dizzying array of objects, it is of hands traversing the life of the object: hands that make and operate, hands that carry and dispense, hands that gesture and flail. The exceptional range of art demands a broad casting of the net—in terms of the kinds of objects, issues, and geographies of fabrication under scrutiny—in order to construct a more complete picture of how the many roles of early modern Jesuits in art-making impacted the history of art.

1.2 Context

The discipline’s silence on these objects, until recently, can be traced to the art historical context of Jesuit art, where its range of sources problematized conventional modes of inquiry. In the 1970s, the re-imagining of the intellectual inheritance of the first half of twentieth-century art history created the necessary preconditions for the expansion of the oeuvre. With Baroque Art: The Jesuit Contribution (1972), Rudolf Wittkower (1901–71) gathered specialists on the Church of the Gesù to ascertain whether Jesuits shaped the distinctive style of the baroque, or vice versa, if the age’s virtuosi defined the artistic undertakings of the Society.26 Almost fifty years later, the anxiety of influence may have a nostalgic ring, but at the time this anthology was forward-looking for its presentation of an alternative to a building biography by considering the thematic links that could override the lack of stylistic unity across interior programs and discrete media.27 Its essays drew upon contemporary texts to recover the lost associations of artists, patrons, and viewers, a method of art historical analysis explored in the aftermath of the Second World War to combat frustration with the hermetic segregation of form from social issues. Erwin Panofsky’s (1892–1968) introduction to Studies in Iconology: Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Renaissance (1939), complete with a step-by-step guide for its application, supplied the infrastructure for the iconological study of art, as exemplified by “Perspective as Symbolic Form” (1924) or Early Netherlandish Painting (1947), where his theory of “disguised symbolism” revealed how everyday objects could be suffused with hidden meaning.28 Symbolic criticism would come to dominate much of twentieth-century art history, with Jesuit iconography featured as an early example of post-Tridentine iconology by Émile Mâle (1862–1954) in 1932.29 Iconology was envisioned as a tool to support the encyclopedic scope of the humanist art historian and ensure the analysis of the object in the world, or more aptly, the world within the object.30

By the 1980s, art historians began to urge the field to acknowledge that not only masterpieces, but also the less famous and often anonymous works of material culture were equally valid subjects for analysis. In other words, the Jesuit commitment to art reached beyond works like the Gesù. Art history was reframed as not simply the study of canonical works of art based on a subjective appraisal of beauty and style; rather, it should be an intellectually rigorous and comprehensive quest to understand everything that can be seen (or triggers sight), all that lies within a visual purview. It is not always recalled that religious art played a leading role in this development, but church decoration had long relied upon the craftsmanship of the decorative arts, and popular devotion frequently featured imagery as an essential component of its rituals, where the cultic function of an object outweighed any aesthetic deliberation. A prescient indication that Jesuit artistic production reached beyond accepted masterpieces can be found in the post-war writings on Jesuit architecture by Pietro Pirri, S.J. (1881–1969) and Pio Pecchiai, S.J. (1882–1965), whose attention to the woodwork of church interiors underscored the value of the art of masters less well known today.31 The number of books that have emerged on Jesuit art since the material culture revolution, from emblem studies to local idioms of Christian subject matter and churches off the beaten track, exceed the parameters of this study, but it suffices to note that a wide-lens view became the gold standard for the discipline of art history at large.

During the 1990s, it became clear that if the history of art was not concentrated on the examination of masterpieces alone, the corollary of whether style was the ultimate barometer of objects neatly followed. Designations like “baroque” art had begun to seem crusty and outdated, a decadent period piece in its taxonomic and cultural constraints, where an assertion could turn on the flick of a wrist or the flight of a line. It had become too closely connected with the fickle snobberies of connoisseurial pronouncements on quality and taste, stimulating art historians to explore other approaches to the interpretation of art. “Early modern” art became a generally accepted solution to indicate studies with an interdisciplinary appeal, and it was a name exceptionally well suited to orders like the Society of Jesus, whose engagement with art began during the sixteenth century’s liminal period of transition from the Renaissance to the baroque era and flourished well into the rococo period of the eighteenth century in defiance of the dictates of any one style. Books like Gauvin Bailey’s Between Renaissance and Baroque: Jesuit Art in Rome, 1565–1610 (2003) situated the Jesuit commitment to art precisely in the analytic gaps of what came to be seen as an initially constructive, if increasingly restrictive, classification system.32 But if “early modern” seemed to err too much on the side of the historical for visual trends, at times endowing a period’s central events with undeserved relevancy, the idea of the “baroque” could be reclaimed as a chronological division for other measures. Evonne Levy’s book, Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque (2004), freed the discourse from the gymnastic contortions needed to make stylistic groupings fit such divergent works by redirecting attention to the functional typologies of architecture.33 When the internal contradictions of customary assessments had become too conspicuous to ignore, Jesuit art placed pressure on the fault lines of a field that recast baroque art in accordance with revised loci for the cultural authority of art.

From the 2000s onward, scholars perceived that the shift from masterpieces to material culture, from stylistic to functional criteria—when art historians looked beyond the accepted corpus to see the lives of objects as inherently compelling, rather than as second-rate cognates of the monuments of western art—highlighted the input of extra-European artistic invention in western art. Sometimes the point that European art should be placed within its original global context has been misunderstood as non-European art supplanting European art. This distinction is meaningful, because it concerns how western art can be reimagined productively in a global frame of reference; it is certainly not a call for its replacement. Art historians have come to differentiate between “global” and “world” objects.34 The creation of “global” art can take place anywhere but assumes a degree of contact between multiple cultures, whether externally, from political state to state and geographic region to region, or internally, within a heterogeneous society. In contrast, “world” art generally refers to objects from non-western artistic heritages, an improvement on artisanal handicrafts in an anthropological system rooted in colonial-era ethnological values, if an undercurrent of bias can still be detected in the fact that that the term is never used to interpret European art. The global reach of Jesuit art, with its many workshop outposts around the world, was brought to widespread attention by Bailey’s landmark Art on the Jesuit Missions in Asia and Latin America, 1543–1773 (1999), which prioritized the contributions of four cultures in the early modern artistic production of the Society of Jesus, positioning the full scope of Jesuit art as a forum well suited to the concerns of art historians today.35

1.3 Resources

For the explosion in the creative arts sparked by Jesuit activity, a curious mind would do well to start with the anthologies spearheaded by John O’Malley, S.J. that surround the researcher with a tantalizing array of options, like The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540–1773 (1999); The Jesuits and the Arts, 1540–1773 (2005); and The Jesuits II: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540–1773 (2006), with introductions from the standpoints of cultural orientation, style, and iconography by O’Malley, Bailey, and Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J.36 Exhibitions—such as Baroque, vision jésuite (Baroque, a Jesuit vision) curated by Alain Tapié in Caen (2003); Portugal, Jesuits, and Japan: Spiritual Beliefs and Earthly Goods, prepared by Victoria Weston in Boston (2013); De Augsburgo a Quito: Fuentes grabadas del arte jesuita quiteño del siglo XVIII (From Augsburg to Quito: The engraved sources for Quito’s eighteenth-century Jesuit art), coordinated by Almerindo Ojeda and Alfonso Ortiz Crespo in Quito (2015); and The Holy Name: Art of the Gesù created by Linda Wolk-Simon in Fairfield, Connecticut (2018)—exhilarate with unalloyed visual bravura.37 Scholars have updated knowledge on the masterpieces of Jesuit art, often with newly discovered archival information and an increased number of objects, as in accounts by Bailey on the Society’s artistic centers in Rome and distant locales (1999, 2003, 2010), and by Levy on the applications of its architecture (2004).38 Other readers may choose to begin with critical editions of principal visual sources for Jesuits, like the three volumes of Jerome Nadal, S.J.: Annotations and Meditations on the Gospels, edited by Frederick Homann, S.J. (1929–2011) and accompanied by substantial essays by Walter Melion (2003–7); the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv (Image of the first century of the Society of Jesus [Antwerp: Plantin Press under Balthasar Moretus, 1640]), commented on by Lydia Salviucci Insolera (2004) and in an anthology edited by O’Malley (2015); and the 1609 Illustrated Biography of Ignatius of Loyola (2008), with a foreword by O’Malley.39

If the number of general introductions to Jesuit art and architecture seem plentiful, they pale in comparison to the treasure trove of resources dedicated to particular aspects of Jesuit art. Books like Pierre Antoine Fabre’s Ignace de Loyola, le lieu de l’image: Le problème de la composition de lieu dans les pratiques spirituelles et artistiques jésuites de la seconde moitié du XVI siècle (Ignatius of Loyola, the place of the image: The problem of the composition of place in Jesuit spiritual and artistic practices of the second half of the sixteenth century [1992]), Ralph Dekoninck’s Ad imaginem: Statuts, fonctions et usages de l’image dans la littérature spirituelle jésuite (In the image: The statutes, functions, and uses of the image in Jesuit spiritual literature [2005]), and Melion’s The Meditative Art: Studies in the Northern Devotional Print, 1550–1625 (2009) have plumbed Jesuit writings, from letters to literature, to reconstruct the overarching principles of Jesuit imagery as an inspiration for meditation.40 Others, like Sibylle Appuhn-Radtke (1988) and Louise Rice (2000), Rose Marie San Juan (2011), and Andrew Horn (2019), have traced discrete phenomena, such as thesis prints, engravings implicated by travel, and religious theater respectively, to chart the scope of the Jesuit engagement with art.41 Jesuit churches acted as spaces of reform, marking memorial grounds (Thomas Lucas, S.J., 1990, 1997), motivating worship through an appeal to the senses (Jeffrey Chipps Smith, 2002), evangelizing at home and abroad (Levy, 2004), and codifying a Jesuit identity (Steffen Zierholz, 2019).42 Together with the ongoing work of Richard Bösel, architectural analysis, the initial locus of Jesuit art criticism, endures as a force, with recent research projects coordinated by Piet Lombaerde on the Jesuit Church of St. Charles Borromeo in Antwerp (2008), directed by Johannes Terhalle on Sant’Andrea al Quirinale (2011), and led by María Isabel Álvaro Zamora (2012), whose group has systematically compared the plans and documents of Jesuit architecture in six countries, as Jesuit sites around the world have begun to be studied.43 Wietse de Boer, Karl Enenkel, and Melion launched a probe into the Jesuit investment in the imago, and a growing number of findings, including my own research, have detailed the pictorial stakes when Jesuits pushed the assumptions of form to their logical conclusions.44 Continuing vitality is attested by an issue of the Journal of Jesuit Studies (2019), guest edited by Alison Fleming, with examples of Jesuit visual culture from early modern Italy, Peru, and Mexico.45

Excellent reviews of the state of research on Jesuit art have been compiled. In the wake of Jesuit Michel de Certeau’s (1925–86) call to rethink historical operations, Fabre offered a brief, but still germane sketch of the Society’s primary areas of artistic achievement (1999): the experience of thinking with imagery, the interplay of the arts, the creation of mission art, and the publication of illustrated books.46 Dekoninck approached the invention of a Jesuit image by connecting the conceptualization of art in the aftermath of Trent with the illustrated books flowing out of Antwerp (French 2005, English 2017).47 Jesuit art merited a bibliographic article by Levy in the first issue of the Journal of Jesuit Studies in 2014, where she singled out advances in three areas: the architecture of Rome and beyond, the meditative engagement with images, and the impact of the Spiritual Exercises on Jesuit pictorial programs.48 Future researchers, she advised, should examine Jesuit art in relation to contemporary art theory and its multi-functionality, and resist the siren call of stylistic interpretation, be it in the form of St. Ignatius as a co-founder of the baroque or the search for a unified theory. The latest review of the study of Jesuit art, by Jeffrey Muller (2017), concluded: “Just as there is no Jesuit style, so there is no separate Jesuit historiography of their art, architecture, and visual communications,” in order to draw attention to overlooked early modern Jesuit writings on art.49 Jesuits differed from other early modern writers on art, namely as religious invested in the spirituality of images, not only politics and personalities. Yet art historians have too often hesitated to immerse themselves in the mental worlds of Jesuits—their training, their philosophy, and their spirituality—preferring instead the concrete, tangible realia of Jesuit actors and makers, a lacuna Luce Giard has likened to “somebody who wants to learn a foreign language, but has no intention of ever speaking to a native speaker and does not really care for the native speakers.”50

Art historians need not become historians, but a rudimentary familiarity with the guiding precepts of the order is a precondition for an informed analysis of Jesuit art.51 It is perhaps not terribly original to recommend O’Malley’s The First Jesuits (1993), but every art historian should read this classic book that remains unrivaled for its introduction to the theory and praxis of the Jesuits, what they did and why they did it, such as how education became the Society’s paramount ministry.52 The collection of O’Malley’s most frequently cited essays in the volume Saints or Devils Incarnate? Studies in Jesuit History (2013) rewards any scholar embarking on new research.53 Along with books like The Jesuits and The Jesuits II, a number of online Open Access resources, available to the public without charge, now facilitate the immediate gratification of those wishing to acquire a 360-degree view of Jesuit art. A perusal of Robert Maryks’s Jesuit Historiography Online (2016–present) delivers in-depth regional and thematic reviews (seventy essays at the time of writing), and his founding of the peer-reviewed Journal of Jesuit Studies in 2014 and Jesuit Studies book series in 2013 established complementary resources to the bastion of Jesuit studies, the Archivum historicum Societatis Iesu.54 Thomas Worcester, S.J. has furnished a thorough synopsis of the spirituality, history, and reach of the Society in his edited volume, The Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits (2008), which is deftly paired with John Patrick Donnelly’s anthology Jesuit Writings of the Early Modern Period 1540–1640 (2006) for sampling the flavor of early Jesuit writings, from spiritual to ministerial, political to practical concerns.55 In 2017, Worcester compiled a reference work, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Jesuits, where readers can find an entry on any number of Jesuit-related subjects.56 Ines Županov’s magisterial The Oxford Handbook of the Jesuits (2019) is a great boon for researchers, consisting of over a thousand pages from forty-one contributing authors.57 This book is a mandatory first stop for anyone interested in Jesuit topics, as experts weigh in on what characterized Jesuit incorporation and administration, spirituality and economy, education and politics, global mission, art and science, anti-Jesuitism and restoration, and these thoughtful reflections set a high benchmark for investigations to come.

One of the more striking aspects of this dynamic field is the shift in who is writing its histories. Until fifty years ago, scholarship on the Society of Jesus was dominated by Jesuit authors. Nowadays, O’Malley has estimated that lay academics contribute at least ninety-five percent of historical bibliography, often by non-Catholic scholars, many without any religious affiliation.58 Although it was crucial to encourage the multiplicity of outside perspectives, the “désenclavement” trend detected by Giard, some of the most nuanced current writing has stemmed from the recognition of the competing loyalties between being a Jesuit and recounting one’s own history, and we are now at a point where it is imperative to make sure the many positions of “insiders’ views” are not lost, so a lone voice is not mistaken for a monolithic entirety.59 Jesuit criticism requires the delicate feat of pinpointing a memory of a social body that continues to evolve in time, where the past, especially one complicated by surviving a papal suppression, can be soldered to a living, breathing tradition.60 Any account must also take into consideration the election of the first Jesuit pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as Pope Francis I in 2013, introducing a new facet to the complex bond between Jesuits and the papacy, which has acted as both a means to, and a check on, the Jesuit call to the world.61 A changing academic ecosystem has energized Jesuit studies; that the great world keeps spinning is what lends grist for the sustained progress of scholarship on early modern Jesuit art.

1.4 Rationale

The study of Jesuit art has enjoyed a veritable golden age in the past two decades, to the point where scholars are hard pressed to stay abreast of the latest breakthroughs. This volume proceeds from the motivation for the Brill Research Perspectives series: the need for a succinct, accessible, and timely guide to areas of particular interest; it does not purport to be a historical synopsis of Jesuit art, an audit of individual traits, or a status quaestionis review. The goal of this book is to showcase how the changing landscape of specialized studies can prompt new inquiries, but then in a manner pruned of enough discipline-specific language to support interest from scholars outside the discipline. Since Jesuit art has yet to be tied to current discourses in art history, this volume should be read as a virtual seminar, an unconventional critical reflection on promising directions for the research of Jesuit art.

Twelve sections are organized under four main divisions. The first part, “Introduction,” has attempted to revise the panorama of Jesuit art by beginning with an inclusive body of work and an overview of the confluence of historiographical circumstances that eclipsed it until recently. A selection of resources prepared a common ground for conversations among art historian and non-art historian alike.

How did such a diverse art come about? The second part, “Sources,” will consider the debate that would not rest, the existence of a distinctive “Jesuit style,” but now from a fresh vantage point: it looks to the portable illustrated books—Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises, Jerónimo Nadal’s (1507–80) Evangelicae historiae imagines (Images of Gospel history), and the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv—that disseminated a more pervasive and flexible corporate identity for the many iterations of Jesuit art than any single style or building. The visual consequences of these well-known books provide the reader with a solid foundation for whichever aspects of Jesuit art he or she wishes to pursue.

The third part, “Contributions,” then pivots from past disputes to reflect on the relevance of early modern Jesuit art today by looking at how the Society’s experiments in art-making would come to define the modern image. The uniquely worldwide construction of Jesuit art promoted the exploration of objects that were internally networked, technologically defined, and innately subjective.

The fourth part, “In Place of a Conclusion,” since this volume is intended to galvanize more research, takes a page from the historian’s use of counterfactual history to ponder the intriguing hypothesis: What if there had been no Jesuit art? For it is in the answer to this question, whether we have unwittingly assigned Jesuit art too much credit, that the justification for its future study is cast in sharpest relief.

Two caveats clarify why I have chosen to refrain from the presentation of this material by period or by region. A chronological approach to Jesuit art has established a tripartite format: an early codification of the newly founded order (1540–1622), which ended with the canonization of Saints Ignatius and Xavier; a mature middle phase (1622–64), when expression flourished; and a later commemorative style (1664–1773), initiated under Giovanni Paolo Oliva (1600–81), eleventh superior general of the Society (in office 1664–81), that lasted until the suppression.62 The advantage of this arrangement resides in its pragmatic and effective cataloging of the order’s artistic output. However, with the growth in objects that constitute Jesuit art, it becomes clear that these elements do not necessarily correlate to a timeline, as can be seen in the Society’s global production. Moreover, such an organization can inadvertently give the misleading impression of a sequential evolution in Jesuit art, when one of its more thought-provoking legacies lies in how images could function independent of a master narrative.

As far as a topographic method, when the Society’s workshops around the world are treated, their production tends to be compartmentalized by region, again helpful for a preliminary classification of the material, if unintentionally reifying the anachronistic national distinctions that have impeded the study of early modern art history. Isolating objects in geographic silos can foster the illusion, for instance, that a work associated with the Jesuits active in Ethiopia had no bearing on the mission to Goa, although this port city was a half-way stop for Jesuits on the Portuguese eastern trade route before doubling back to West Africa or pressing forward into South and East Asia. And too much of a focus on difference can threaten to obscure the representative themes that bound the order and would only become heightened in a post-Tridentine climate. But perhaps the best reason for avoiding such a framework, at this stage, is that it can detract from a signal achievement of the first Jesuits: the vision of an interconnected world, in its manifold forms, as a centerpiece for the Society’s identity.

Part 2: Sources

2.1 A “Jesuit Style”?

For Jesuit art, the question of sources has been dominated by the issue of whether a “Jesuit style” exists, with the Church of the Gesù at the core of this argument. Begun in 1568, after the design of the architects Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola (1507–73) and Giacomo della Porta (1532–1602), if largely implemented under Giovanni Tristano (c.1515–75) and Giovanni de Rosis (1538–1610), the Gesù was completed in 1575 and consecrated on November 25, 1584.63 Outside, its façade was known for its streamlined, classical symmetries and the memorable inverted scrolls bracing the ends of its upper level, welcomed for its appropriately austere exemplification of the “simple style,” reflecting della Porta’s design over Vignola’s more elaborate plans for a sculpture-packed exterior (fig. 2.1).64 Inside, Vignola’s plan for the composition of space adopted the reforms championed by Jesuits in line with Tridentine decrees, such as a wide nave to facilitate sermons, the removal of a choir screen barrier to the high altar, and the inclusion of confessionals (fig. 2.2).65 The Gesù became a paradigm for a Catholic Reformation worship experience, its public façade marked the church as “Jesuit” as its private interior affirmed the values the young order espoused. The scale of the Society of Jesus’s architectural activity is remarkable by early modern standards: Thomas Lucas, S.J. has estimated that by the time of its suppression in 1773, the order had constructed 160 churches in Italy and 1,200 churches worldwide.66 The familial resemblance among Jesuit buildings became known as the “Jesuit style” and stamped an identity, like the Society’s Seal or monogram, so that no matter how remote the location, an inhabitant, a visitor, and a trader would know a Jesuit church when he or she saw one. The idea of a “Jesuit style” was born, consistent but adaptable enough to be customized locally, a theory tantalizingly publicized by Carlo Galassi Paluzzi’s (1893–1972) Storia segreta dello stile dei gesuiti (The secret history of the Jesuit style [1951]).67

Figure 2.1
Figure 2.1

Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, Giacomo della Porta, Giovanni Tristano, and Giovanni de Rosis, Church of the Gesù, Exterior, 1568–75, Rome

Photo: © Zeno Colantoni
Figure 2.2
Figure 2.2

Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, Giacomo della Porta, Giovanni Tristano, and Giovanni de Rosis, Church of the Gesù, Interior, 1568–75, Rome

Photo: © Zeno Colantoni

Contemporary evidence seemed to support the idea of a “Jesuit style.” Just two years after Loyola’s death, in 1558, the First General Congregation of the Society issued a ruling (decree 34) on the erection of buildings that was confirmed and organized after the Second General Congregation in 1563 (decree 103).68 Guidelines stated that Jesuit edifices should not be overly lavish but rather be built “practical, healthful, and sturdy,” “neither sumptuous nor novel” so as to instill the contemplation of poverty (“utilia, sana et fortia […] in quibus tamen pauperitatis nostrae memores esse videamur. Unde nec sumptuosa sint nec curiousa”). They should hew to the “form and manner of our buildings” (“formam et modum nostrorum aedificiorum”), implying a generally understood Jesuit norm, even if this frequently quoted paradigm referred only to schools and houses, leaving designs for churches unrestricted (“De ecclesiis tamen nihil dictum est.”). Concerted efforts to cultivate a degree of regularity, with “une diffusion quasi-universelle” (a quasi-universal diffusion), seem to have proceeded apace until the death of the fourth superior general, Everard Mercurian (1514–80, in office 1573–80).69 Jesuit architects like de Rosis assembled “look-books” filled with a selection of acceptable plans for the Society’s new construction projects, giving the impression that the Society was trying to consolidate designs around a set of shared architectural principles (fig. 2.3).70 Notably, all the church designs on this page feature airy naves and unobstructed paths to the central altar, the choir (and its screen) subsumed into a single loft-like space; only one option had old-fashioned side aisles, albeit still incorporated within a rectangular footprint instead of the conventional Gothic cruciform.71 The respected Jesuit artist and architect Giuseppe Valeriano (1542–96) was reported to have begun a treatise on building for the Society around the same time, although its existence has yet to be confirmed.72 A “Jesuit style” also appeared to adhere to the spirit of “our way of proceeding” (“noster modus procedendi”), the oft-repeated phrase that Nadal ascribed to St. Ignatius himself for a method of handling matters that could be applied to everything from the spiritual realm to mundane logistics.

Figure 2.3
Figure 2.3

Giovanni de Rosis, Plans for Jesuit Churches, c.1580, ink on paper, fol. 13r (MS no. Campori 172, inv. no. Gamma.i.1.50). Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Gallerie Estensi

Photo: © Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e per il Turismo della Repubblica Italiana

Perhaps the most lasting rationale for a “Jesuit style,” and of the greatest value from the researcher’s standpoint, was the institution of a system for approving Jesuit architectural designs that resulted in the preservation of a rich collection of primary sources presently housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.73 At first, all architectural plans and drawings required the official ratification of the superior general, but the sheer scale of the Jesuit building works soon made this practice unwieldy.74 The task of translating constitutional decisions into action, with a coordinated central office for examining projects and carrying out inspections, was consolidated in the new post of the Jesuit consiliarius aedificiorum, the censor general for architectural projects.75 The position was first filled by Tristano, which allowed him to keep his hand in the execution of such Jesuit landmarks as the Gesù and the Roman College (Collegio Romano), with institutional continuity provided by the appointment of his students and junior colleagues as his successors.76 Jesuits were instructed to submit plans for all buildings, including churches, to the consiliarius aedificiorum or superior general for assessment, after which no further changes could be made. The thirteenth superior general Tirso González de Santalla (1624–1705, in office 1687–1705) approved the design of the Jesuit College of the Holy Spirit and St. Ignatius in Heidelberg in the top-left corner, “Iconographiam hanc Collegii Heidelbergensis approbamus hac di 3. Novembris 1703. Thyrsus Gonzales” (We approve the plan of Heidelberg College, November 3, 1703. Thyrsus Gonzales) (fig. 2.4).77 And inscriptions could also specify enhancements, like that of the provincial of France, Christophe Baltazar (1560–1627), an architect by training who judged the façade of the Jesuit Church of All Saints at Rennes as rather stark and in need of more ornamentation (“Est nimis simplex: addenda aliqua ornamenta.”) in March 1624.78 But on-site factors, such as the existence of an earlier church or the accommodation of regional preferences, could necessitate substantial variations from proven designs, and by the mid-seventeenth century, the application had become basically pro forma, with architects altering plans after approval.79 A coherent corporate identity for Jesuit buildings may have been a desired goal, vital for a new order trying to shape a specific profile, but it was amid a proliferation of creative visions, where the works of Jesuit architects were as diverse as those of a Giovanni Battista Fiammeri (c.1530–1606), a Daniel Seghers (1590–1661), and a Giuseppe Castiglione (1688–1766) among Jesuit artists.

Figure 2.4
Figure 2.4

Plan for the Jesuit College, Heidelberg, c.1703. Karlsruhe, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe

Photo: © Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe

Upon closer inspection, however, cracks begin to appear in the theory of a uniform “Jesuit style.” James Ackerman (1919–2016) has shown that many of the spatial reforms for the interior of the Gesù, and therefore generally attributed to Jesuit churches, have been found elsewhere first, sometimes in places without any particular Jesuit connection (fig. 2.2).80 Though not widely mentioned beyond the Portuguese-language bibliography, the auditorium-style nave and elimination of the choir, not to mention the estilo chão, or “plain style,” can be found in earlier examples than the Roman Gesù, as in the Lisbon Church of São Roque, the Society’s home church in Portugal, built under the direction of the court architects Afonso Álvares (d. c.1580), Baltasar Álvares (1560–1630), and Filippo Terzi (or Felipe Terzio, 1520–97) from 1565 to 1609 (figs. 2.5–2.6).81 Clare Robertson has detailed how the third superior general, Borja, lost the battle for modesty in interior decoration to the Gesù’s patron, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520–89, in office 1534–89).82 Farnese’s taste for lavish materials meant that the interior was decked with marble, gilt, and vibrantly hued frescoes, and where Borja had sought a humble, flat roof, minimally decorated, to improve acoustics, with Tristano as the architect of record, Farnese insisted on an elegant barrel vault for the nave under his architect of choice, Vignola. Conflicts like this expose the strain between what the eleventh superior general, Oliva, would later advocate as the discretion of art for edification, intended to short-circuit admiration, and the full-throated Roman baroque that would be propagated under his supervision during the third quarter of the seventeenth century.83 Francis Haskell (1928–2000) has underscored the contrast between what was said and what was done, by both patron and incumbent superior general, especially since the illusionistic period of Jesuit art, so closely associated with a “Jesuit style,” did not actually begin until over a century after the Society’s founding.84 The Gesù functioned less as a fixed icon than a stage where the tensions between ideal and reality that would continue to hound Jesuit architecture—be it in terms of restraint versus exuberance, classicizing versus novel decoration, or institutional coverage versus individual expression—dramatically unfolded.

Figure 2.5
Figure 2.5

Afonso Álvares, Baltasar Álvares, and Filippo Terzi, Church of São Roque, Exterior, 1565–1609, Lisbon

© Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa. Photo: Cintra & Castro Caldas
Figure 2.6
Figure 2.6

Afonso Álvares, Baltasar Álvares, and Filippo Terzi, Church of São Roque, Interior, 1565–1609, Lisbon

© Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa. Photo: Núcleo de a Udiovisuais e Multimédia

In fact, long before Galassi Paluzzi’s popularization of the “Jesuit style,” scholars had definitively disproven it. At the turn of the twentieth century, the notion of a “Jesuit style” was first questioned by Louis Serbat (1875–1953) in 1902–3 and then roundly denounced by Joseph Braun, S.J. (1857–1947) in 1907–12, who categorically stated it was “in Wirklichkeit ein bloßes Phantom” (in reality a mere phantom), that no homogenous style imposed by Rome had ever existed, and most damningly of all: “The word ‘Jesuit style’ is a name without content, a word without meaning. May it soon disappear from the histories of art and encyclopedias. There is no justification for its existence.”85 Braun determined that approval of the plans of Jesuit buildings depended more on functional principles than on any decorative or stylistic qualities, as befits an order committed to the reform of worship.86 Notwithstanding the fact that the early modern notion of a copy was bound by less stringent constraints than today, extant churches are striking for having little in common with the Gesù beyond the size and division of space.87 Further, church design was often shaped by local circumstance, like the desire to evoke a Byzantine church, reminiscent of the Basilica of Constantine in Rome, for the Munich Jesuit Church of St. Michael, 1583–97, or the need to build on Protestant plans in the Court Church of Our Lady at Neuburg an der Donau, 1607–18, after the young Catholic count palatine of Neuberg, Wolfgang Wilhelm (1578–1653, r.1614–53), succeeded his resolutely Lutheran father, Philipp Ludwig (1547–1614, r.1569–1614) and gave the Court Church to the Jesuits.88 Indeed, a keystone in Braun’s demolition of the “Jesuit style” was his argument that far from rejecting the streamlined simplicity of the Protestant churches of Northern Europe, the earliest Jesuits built most of their churches in that style through the seventeenth century, and classicizing or Italian elements were balanced by the use of a vernacular iteration of the Renaissance or baroque.89 This was a model that would become especially noticeable when applied in the world at large, leading to analysis, for example, of what José Pereira has called the “Indian Baroque” and Maria Cristina Osswald the “modo Goano” (Goan mode).90 Confronted with such realities, the enforcement of any one stylistic vocabulary was never a viable option for early modern Jesuit art.

Following in the footsteps of Braun’s return to the original ground plans and correspondence of early Jesuit architects, by the 1950s, scholars like Pirri, Pecchiai, Pierre Moisy (1912–75), and Jean Vallery-Radot (1890–1971) returned to the archives to show that the Jesuit “way of proceeding” related more to technical issues, like size, location of sacristies and vestries, economy, and speed of execution.91 The “Jesuit style” was at least in equal parts practice and theory, and noster modus procedendi should more aptly be termed “not a product, but a process.”92 Wittkower concluded that a loosely woven Jesuit strategy for what could designate “our buildings” only meant that general formulae were supplemented by the control vested in the consiliarius aedificiorum and the stylistic conformity generated by the practice of sending Jesuit artists and architects (usually Italian) to complete a project.93 More recently, Richard Bösel’s return to the Italian architectural plans from the Bibliothèque Nationale has led him to emphasize how much more inventive Jesuit buildings were than has previously been appreciated, where the Society’s building policy should be viewed as a “Ratio aedificiorum,” a “Plan of Buildings” reliant on the review, coordination, and archiving of all the Jesuit architectural projects worldwide, comparable to the Ratio studiorum (Plan of studies, 1599) that coordinated a Jesuit system of advanced education while still encouraging innovation.94 Fabre has declared that Jesuit art should not be appraised as a “repertoire and a lineage of forms and figures, but as the ensemble of visual manifestations with which the Society of Jesus—which had great power worldwide in the field of cultural representation—surrounded its activities, properly apostolic or pedagogical, civic, etc.”95 And Dekoninck has stated that rather than tracing the origins of a “Jesuit style,” the aim of interpretation should serve the compilation of several “systems of representation governing the production and reception of images,” one that was formed and disseminated considerably, but not exclusively, by the Society as agent in a thoroughly modern reshuffling of the rapport between human being and object.96

A peculiarity of this bibliography is that although the notion of a “Jesuit style” has been firmly rejected by most scholars for over a century, the topic nevertheless persists in the literature, passed down from one study to the next, in Braun’s words, like “congenital defects” (“Erbfehlern”).97 By itself, the twentieth- century historiography of a “Jesuit style” as a neutral and descriptive tool for classification—where a body of objects was identified as “Jesuit,” in opposition to other groups, such as religious orders (e.g., Dominicans, Franciscans, Theatines, Oratorians) or diocesan clergy—would hardly seem to justify such attention; most attempts to catalog works of art have not elicited such a reaction.98 But a more complicated story emerges from the term’s etymology, when the nineteenth-century reception of Jesuit art laid the battle lines of the deeply contested “baroque.” After the renowned antiquarian Jacob Burckhardt (1818–97) was confronted with Jesuit churches as minimalist as their whitewashed Protestant counterparts during his tour of Italy, he substituted the words “baroque” and “Counter-Reformation” for the earlier “Jesuitenstil” in his guidebook to the art of the region, the Cicerone (1855).99 This was a notion of a “Jesuit style” that bore little relation to a set of formal qualities intrinsic to the order, since Burckhardt admitted that Jesuit buildings were consistent with the architecture of their time, could not be uniformly attributed to Jesuit architects, and therefore could not constitute a concerted style. Contrary to twentieth-century research into contemporaneous early modern sources to retrieve the intentions of those involved in its original design, Burckhardt’s description of a Jesuitenstil was pejorative, pervasive, and frankly driven by regional partisan passions of the day—Levy has linked his usage to a conservative cantonal nationalism inflected by Swiss Reformed Protestantism, a “Kantönligeist”—as demonstrated in an article for the Basler Zeitung (July 28, 1844):

The Jesuits are as insincere in their architecture as they were in every other aspect of the spiritual life of the people; they only wanted it to be imposing. […] From the middle of the seventeenth century, they reached the apex of ecclesiastical architecture and made the degenerate Italian style entirely their own. […] The grand pomp—and inner poverty—of their ecclesiastical style swept all contemporary Catholic architecture along with it, and this, following in the path of the Jesuits, sacrificed each and every last thing for the sake of raw effect. […] However, their time has passed; art will no longer allow them to impose their will on it.100

Nor was this simply a Protestant tactic; Jesuits themselves were not immune to indulging in the politics of taste, as suggested by the commendation of Galassi Paluzzi’s exposition of the “Jesuit style” by Pietro Tacchi Venturi, S.J. (1861–1956), the controversial figure dubbed “Mussolini’s Jesuit” for his work as go-between with the Vatican.101 The traces of a sectarian “Jesuit style,” entrenched in competing strategies of ethics and governance, afforded a proxy for the culture wars of modern life and imbued the stylistic profile of a historical religious order with an evergreen relevance for baroque specialist and non-art historian alike.

But if there is no “Jesuit style” per se, and architectural monuments only functioned as limited models, what remains as formative sources for Jesuit art? Architecture, nevertheless, stands as an apposite point of departure, because scholars have observed that early Jesuit churches often incorporated quotations from early modern illustrated architectural treatises, like those circulating by Vitruvius (c.80/70 BCE–after c.15 BCE), Leon Battista Alberti (1404–72), Sebastiano Serlio (1475–c.1554), Andrea Palladio (1508–80), and Vincenzo Scamozzi (1548–1616). These books were also known to be present in Jesuit libraries in Asia and the Americas, their ideas spread afield by Jesuit architects, who had themselves been thoroughly versed in these vocabularies, as when Pozzo instituted a workshop for architecture, painting, and copper engraving at the Roman College in 1681.102 Books prefaced the humble material of paper above the more rarefied resource of marble in the hierarchy of influential objects for Jesuit art, since paper could travel farther than stone, and at minimal cost, to reach people who might never see the Gesù. But Jesuits were prolific authors themselves, and non-architectural volumes, though greatly valued in their own right, have yet to be explicitly recognized for their structural significance in the synthesis of a Jesuit art. Printed pictures and emblems provided the direction for the crafting of a Jesuit artistic identity hand in hand with an Ignatian spiritual persona, one that was versatile enough to conform to any situation, sufficiently portable for dispersal, and accessible to many regardless of time or place.103 It was in paper’s apparent “weakness,” the fragility and resiliency particularly evident in the flow of the global arena, where its power resided.104 Prints provided a material equivalent to the unofficial policy of “a flexu forma” found in Jesuit Carlo Bovio’s (1614–1705) emblem book Ignatius insignium epigrammatum et elogiorum centuriis expressus (The most significant expression of hundreds of epigrams and inscriptions [Rome: Ignazio de’ Lazzari, 1655]), which exhorted Jesuits to accommodate circumstance, while still maintaining the shared precepts of the Society.105 They were where meditation was composed, multimedia decorative systems were imagined, and missions were systemized.106 When the question of a “Jesuit style” is rehabilitated as an inquiry into sources for early modern Jesuit art, the contribution of an art historical underdog, the scrappy yet tenacious reserve of prints, can be given its proper due.

2.2 The Spiritual Exercises (Exercitia spiritualia)

Three books structured the first century of Jesuit art: Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises (1548), Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines (1593), and the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv (1640). It may seem strange to start with a book that was not illustrated originally, like the Spiritual Exercises, to discuss the visual codification of an order’s identity. But the Spiritual Exercises was the defining achievement, the first association by either a bystander or a member of the order with the Society of Jesus and its founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, as seen in the Frontispiece Portrait of St. Ignatius of Loyola from an illustrated Flemish edition, Geestelycke oeffeninghen vanden H. vader Ignatius van Loyola (The Spiritual Exercises of Holy Father Ignatius of Loyola [Antwerp: Michiel Cnobbaert, 1673]) (fig. 2.7). The historian Hugo Rahner, S.J. (1900–68) singled out the Exercises as the inspiration for the ground plan of the Society, and as one of the few books to be continuously in print for over 450 years, its lasting relevance has been corroborated.107 St. Ignatius is believed to have begun composing the Spiritual Exercises in Spanish as early as 1523; it was reviewed and practiced by St. Pierre Favre (or Peter Faber, 1506–46), Alfonso Salmerón (1515–85), and Juan Alfonso de Polanco (1517–76) during the 1530s, and its revised manuscript was definitively approved by Pope Paul III and first published in Latin in Rome in 1548.108 Along with the early Directories on giving the Spiritual Exercises, the authorized version is regarded as one of the five major sources on early Jesuit spirituality, together with the Constitutiones et regulae Societatis Iesu (Constitutions of the Society of Jesus); the early biography (through 1538) of St. Ignatius he narrated to Luís Gonçalves da Câmara (1519–75); segments of his spiritual diary; and over seven thousand letters written before his death in Rome on July 31, 1556.109 The Spiritual Exercises occupies a unique place in early modern religious literature as a manual for spiritual reflection, reputedly drawn from Ignatius’s personal experiences with God, not from earlier writings, although scholars have noted its debt to cornerstones of late medieval spirituality, like Thomas à Kempis’s (c.1380–1471) De imitatione Christi (On the imitation of Christ [c.1418–27]) and the Devotio moderna (Modern devotion) movement in the Netherlands (late fourteenth–sixteenth century), Erasmus of Rotterdam’s (1466–1536) Enchiridion militis Christiani (Handbook of a Christian soldier [1501]), and the works of the Alumbrados (Enlightened), practitioners of a mystical Christianity in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Spain.110 The Exercises was divided into four “weeks,” more accurately regarded as stages than necessarily of week-long duration, using the life of Christ as an instrument for personal meditation. The theologian Karl Rahner, S.J. (1904–84) would attribute the beginning of the modern era of the church to the “immediate experience of God” (“unmittelbare Gotteserfahrung”) enabled by the Spiritual Exercises.111

Figure 2.7
Figure 2.7

Frontispiece Portrait of St. Ignatius of Loyola, in St. Ignatius of Loyola, Geestelycke oeffeninghen vanden H. vader Ignatius van Loyola (Antwerp: Michiel Cnobbaert, 1673), engraving (call no. LP 11.979 A RP). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

The principles delineated in the Exercises would set the tone for Jesuit art as a conscious construction of identity forged by choice and engagement with the world. It could even be claimed that beginning with the Spiritual Exercises is most true to its ambivalent position on imagery, since to do so captures the delicate balance it struck between the generation and negation of the visible. Although a technique intensely reliant on manifold forms of the visual, initial editions of the Spiritual Exercises did not contain imagery: the first printed version, for the exclusive use of the Society, was published by Antonio Blado (1490–1567) in Rome (1548), and its images were limited to a title page with the “IHS” monogram and decorated initial letters.112 By the early seventeenth century, illustrated editions of the Spiritual Exercises had begun to appear, such as a 1609 volume printed in Rome by Bartolomeo II Zanetti (fl.1602–21) with simple woodblock prints, consisting of thirty-eight artistically worked “IHS” monograms, at times accompanied by phrases and in a range of sizes and presentations, and many small roundels of biblical scenes.113 From the mid-seventeenth century onward, publishers of vernacular versions of the Exercises interwove increasingly refined engravings of classic iconographies of biblical stories with original compositions to highlight the Ignatian gloss on the Christian narrative.114 Since the prints were a later supplement to the original text, art historians have tended to eschew study of the illustrated Spiritual Exercises, with notable exceptions, although they supply an important commentary on how the Exercises was envisioned during the first century and a half of its practice. Lydia Salviucci Insolera has cited the inclusion of images in the Spiritual Exercises as one of the great moments in the text’s historical evolution, for it shows how the Exercises was originally conceptualized as a visual progression, from the pictorial imagination to the illustrations to the exercitant’s mind.115 And Dekoninck has shown that new designs, like those executed by Frederick II Bouttats (c.1610–76) in the edition published by Michiel Cnobbaert (fl.1652–91), were often drawn from other Jesuit spiritual treatises—such as Boetius Bolswert’s (c.1580–1633) engravings for Antoine Sucquet’s (1574–1627) Via vitae aeternae (The path of eternal life [vol. 1: Antwerp: Martin III Nuyts, 1620, vol. 2: Hendrick Aertssens, 1625]) and Herman Hugo’s (1588–1629) Pia desideria, emblematis, elegiis et affectibus SS. patrum illustrata (Pious desires, illustrated by emblems, elegies, and affective devotions of the Holy Fathers [Antwerp: Boetius Bolswert and Hendrik Aertssens, 1624])—thus placing the illustrations of the Spiritual Exercises in the unusual position of channeling both the foundation and the culmination of an early modern Ignatian spirituality.116

The iconography of subjects unique to the Spiritual Exercises was governed by the precepts that would become the hallmarks of a Jesuit art. Arresting images like a hand raised in a “stop” gesture for the Examination of Conscience (Examen conscientiae) suggest the Society understood the Spiritual Exercises as a balancing act between personal and group identity (fig. 2.8). A reference to Psalm (119:109), “I hold my life in my hand continually, / but I do not forget your law” (“Anima mea in manibus / meis semper [et legem tuam non sum oblitus.] Ps. 118”), stretches across the palm, reconfiguring a standard mnemonic template into a shared bond between an individual hand and the communal body of law. In the course of navigating private and public spheres, the Spiritual Exercises outlined how a technology of the person could be fused from three modes of self-fashioning: the Examination of Conscience, confession, and spiritual investigation.117 In this image, five fingers visualize steps of the Examen: (1) giving thanks to God the Father for blessings received (“1. Gratias age.”); (2) seeking the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit through prayer (“2. Pete lumen.”); (3) accounting for the soul before a Christ seated in judgment (“3. Examina.”); and (4) grieving the crucifixion to ask for forgiveness (“4. Dole.”); until (5) the worshiper has been replaced by a Christian knight, the miles Christianus, victorious over the devil, like St. Michael slaying the dragon, and resolved to display improvement (“5. Propone.”).118 The hand presented a set of tools with which to comprehend one’s life, in accordance with St. Augustine of Hippo’s (354–430) admonition that to know God, one must first know oneself, and congruent with Jesuit George Aschenbrenner’s comment that Ignatius’s great accomplishment was to turn the Exercises’ Examination of Conscience into a study in consciousness by attuning the self to his or her communication with God.119 The Spiritual Exercises did not purport to designate a particular truth; it showed how interrogatory exercises could be internalized as permanent mechanisms of scrutiny and presented a prototype for Jesuit art that was finely attuned to the post-Reformation political moment, whereby questioning drew upon the ancient Greco-Roman moral practice of askesis to improve the soul.120 And Michelle Molina has attributed the construction of a modern self to the propagation of such Jesuit techniques of personal examination on mission, a phenomenon borne out by the importance of extra-European picture-making for Jesuit art.121

Figure 2.8
Figure 2.8

Frederick II Bouttats, Examination of Conscience, in St. Ignatius of Loyola, Geestelycke oeffeninghen vanden H. vader Ignatius van Loyola, 40, engraving (call no. LP 11.979 A RP). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

To shape the soul, the Spiritual Exercises supplied a model for operations in the move from a mystical theology to a process-oriented methodological spirituality, where any sense of a “Jesuit style” lay in the procedure it rehearsed. More than an aesthetic style, the Spiritual Exercises systemized the underpinnings of noster modus procedendi, what Favre called a “way to proceed,” heeding St. Ignatius’s many mentions of an “order” or “form of proceeding,” and a “mode that characterizes a procedure” (Spiritual Exercises, v. 119, 204, 350).122 But the Spiritual Exercises was intended neither as a prescriptive nor as a proscriptive text: it simply submitted a prompt for the exercitant, something de Certeau compared to a libretto with no music, where the crucial text was actually not within it.123 The Exercises delivered a series of landmarks for taking readings, not the itinerary of a full voyage, piloted by the exercitant him- or herself, akin to the hypermedia that anticipated the World Wide Web today. O’Malley has observed that the two principal features of the Spiritual Exercises were its clear design and unlimited format, order with freedom as flip sides of the same impulse.124 This is why Favre, whom de Certeau has called the best interpreter, distributor, and even co-author of the Spiritual Exercises, appreciated the personal growth and change undertaken in the Exercises and only regarded its text as secondary.125 Art historians have too often treated the Spiritual Exercises as a book to be read continuously from start to finish, and interpreted accordingly, despite it being a series of directives that were constantly in flux and highly dependent on a person’s specific situation. One of the more ingenious aspects of the Exercises was that it was conceived as interactive, a practice made, not simply read. Mercurian would affirm:

When merely read, the sacred Scriptures barely move anyone; but when meditated and pondered they are replete with mysteries. Similarly with the Exercises: when merely read, they obviously contain good precepts but move no one very much; when made, however, they are extraordinarily powerful and effective for the conversion of souls and spiritual fruit.126

Silvia Mostaccio has pointed to this unrestricted quality as the pivotal link between the formulation of Jesuit pastoral goals and identity, that it was through the form of spiritual governance found in the Exercises, a Jesuit “way of being,” not the temporal or geographical stylistic categories asserted in art history, that the distinction between Jesuit and non-Jesuit, and thus Jesuit- and non-Jesuit-related art, was determined.127

Within this distinctive framework, the Spiritual Exercises guided the hands-on structuring of identity, personal and pictorial, through the kairos, or the self-defining moment; Ignatius viewed the contingent nature of personal change and daily conversion as the core of the Society. The historian H. Outram Evennett (1901–64) has noted that the Exercises “were in a sense the systematized, de-mysticized quintessence of the process of Ignatius’s own conversion and purposeful change of life, and they were intended to work a similar change in others,” and Moshe Sluhovsky has portrayed them as “instructions for a modular, ordered, and slow procedure of transforming one’s life.”128 This is the decision depicted in the Spiritual Exercises as the Meditation on the Two Standards above the imperative: “Choose today whom you will serve.” (“Eligite hodie cui seruire potissimum debeatis.”) (fig. 2.9).129 The viewer is confronted with the choice the front figures among an arriving crowd, surrogates for the exercitant, must make between Jesus Christ holding a cross or the devil with his bestial attendants in flames, as the Exercises instructs, between the two banners, “the one of Christ, our Supreme Commander and Lord, the other of Lucifer, the mortal enemy of our human nature” (Spiritual Exercises, v. 136–48).130 The Exercises revolved around the potential of self-determination at a crossroads in life, the individual’s quest to make a decision, called the “Election” in Ignatian terminology, when the exercitant was invited to reject sin and accept God’s offer of salvation, and two appendices provided more guidance on the “Discernment of Spirits” (Spiritual Exercises, v. 313–36).131 Reflection relied upon what could be thought of as the “spiritual Trinity” of memory, intelligence, and will to navigate the soul through the various instruments that empowered choice (Spiritual Exercises, v. 50).132 For Ignatius, biblical exempla could be leveraged to resolve unforeseen, and frequently unprecedented, problems through resolute action. Not least, the Spiritual Exercises presented an optimal method for navigating the predicaments of decision-making on distant mission, of which art was only one ministry, where initiative in the field, often in local conditions that would be met with limited understanding back in Rome, was required for decisions that needed to maintain orthodoxy and the Jesuit vow of obedience to the pope.

Figure 2.9
Figure 2.9

Frederick II Bouttats, Meditation on the Two Standards, in St. Ignatius of Loyola, Geestelycke oeffeninghen vanden H. vader Ignatius van Loyola, 106, engraving (call no. LP 11.979 A RP). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

A second integral aspect of the Spiritual Exercises in the creation of a Jesuit identity in art, if one usually conceded obliquely, was its world-affirming spirituality that espoused the “continual dynamic presence of God in all things” from creation onward (Spiritual Exercises, v. 43) and presupposed a liber mundi (book of the world), whose notion of the cosmos saturated the Exercises from start to finish.133 On the one hand, the Spiritual Exercises anchored the image of the Principle and Foundation in the past of time immemorial, beginning with the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib in the Garden of Eden in the central background directly beneath the rays of God, so the exercitant recognized, after reflection “from end to end,” that the course had been set (“Considerandus e finis et suum finem dirigendum est cursus.”) (fig. 2.10).134 In the foreground, a Rückenfigur, a figure with his back turned to the viewer, provided an avatar for the exercitant, who was likewise meant to see an era of innocence unfold from the fall of man to present circumstance in a world made by and for God (Spiritual Exercises, v. 23).135 The logic ran that since God is above the whole world, and not simply the dialectical antithesis to it, he is also to be found in it, worldly and otherworldly, hidden and manifest.136 So the exercitant must participate in the world, a position that would come to be subsumed into the famous phrase “contemplative while in action” (“simul in actione contemplativus”), with “while” (simul) being the operative word, often attributed to Nadal.137 Only an active agent in the world could effect change, an intentional break with cloistered monastic habits, to the point where the charge of trying to introduce a “hermetic spirit” would become a consistent intramural accusation within the Society during its first century.138

Figure 2.10
Figure 2.10

Frederick II Bouttats, Principle and Foundation, in St. Ignatius of Loyola, Geestelycke oeffeninghen vanden H. vader Ignatius van Loyola, 34, engraving (call no. LP 11.979 A RP). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

On the other hand, the Exercises concluded the “Mysteries of the Life of Christ Our Lord” with a bird’s-eye vision of the world in the Contemplation of Paradise that prefaced the unrealized future: “Oh, how unworthy I am to look at the earth with the sky!” (“Heu quam sordet tellus cum coelum aspicio.”) (fig. 2.11).139 An angelic Rückenfigur raises his or her hands in a gesture of awe at the transformative effect of the Exercises as a frontier zone, between “earth and sky,” the effect described by de Certeau as “two practices of space colliding in the field of visibility, one organized by discipline, the other made by astonishment,” where “the Foundation creates a vanishing point in relation to those things that can be examined and improved.”140 The interval to discover the place of the self between the old path and the choice for the new could only surface in transit, a spirituality well suited to the constant relocation of mission. By opening a rift in the consecutive relation between before and after, the Foundation proposed detachment from an object, a code, or a state of life, where, in accord with Rainer Maria Rilke’s (1875–1926) “language of absence,” “openness is the poem” and invitation to behavior premised on the constructive juxtaposition of self and world.141 Rather than a “Jesuit style,” which held little regard for the singular spirituality of the order, de Certeau’s insight, that the Spiritual Exercises exhibited a “way of proceeding” in the world that “acquires form by opening up,” reveals a practical and conceptually grounded source that could be tailored to wherever Jesuit imagery would lead.142

Figure 2.11
Figure 2.11

Frederick II Bouttats, Contemplation of Paradise, in St. Ignatius of Loyola, Geestelycke oeffeninghen vanden H. vader Ignatius van Loyola, 226, engraving (call no. LP 11.979 A RP). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

2.3 The Evangelicae historiae imagines

Since the Spiritual Exercises was not initially illustrated, Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines, published in 1593 by the Antwerp house of the Society of Jesus, may be credited as the earliest pictorial application of the Spiritual Exercises, its Frontispiece bearing Jesus’s invitation to the second generation of Jesuits: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (“Venite ad me omnes qvi / laboratis et onerati estis / et ego reficiam vos.” [Mt 11:28]) (fig. 2.12). After all, this historic project was undertaken at the express request of Ignatius, who had affirmed that “he [i.e., Nadal] altogether knows my mind and enjoys the same authority as myself,” positioning Nadal as the preeminent disseminator of Ignatius’s ideas.143 The Evangelicae historiae imagines depicted scenes from the life of Christ in the Gospels, coordinated with the liturgical calendar, to instruct Jesuit scholastics in Ignatian meditational techniques for prayer.144 In 1595, the Evangelicae’s plates would be amplified by meditations and commentary by Nadal, the focus of some images reconfigured, and the number of images expanded, the second edition republished under the title Adnotationes et meditationes in Evangelia quae in sacrosancto Missae sacrificio toto anno leguntur (Annotations and meditations on the Gospels read during the sacrifice of Mass throughout the year [Antwerp: Martin II Nuyts, 1595]).145 It was in these refinements to the Evangelicae’s core messages that the rapport between interior and exterior sight, so determinative of the identity shown to the world, was polished. The final production would be the largest, most complex, and finely engraved series of prints ever commissioned by the Jesuits and would contain 153 folio-size printed images, engraved by Johannes (or Jan, 1549–c.1620) Hieronymus (1553–1619), and Antoon II (c.1552–c.1604) Wierix, Adriaen (c.1560–1618) and Jan II Collaert (c.1561/66–c.1620/28), and Karel de Mallery (1571–c.1635).146 Antwerp presses provided an important voice for Catholic reform, one that Nadal would have been familiar with from his time as visitor to the province of Flanders during the 1560s, and they printed the bulk of works on Ignatian spirituality.147 The Evangelicae was one of the earliest illustrated Jesuit books in Antwerp, after Christophe Plantin’s (fl.1548–89) woodcut-supplemented editions of Peter Canisius’s (or Pieter Kanis, 1521–97) Institutiones Christianae pietatis, seu parvus catechismus Catholicorum (Christian institutes, or small Catholic catechism [Antwerp: Christophe Plantin, 1566, rep. ed. 1574]).148 Nadal would not live to see the completion of his magnum opus, as it would not reach its final state until about fifteen years after his death on April 3, 1580, but the Evangelicae historiae imagines/Adnotationes et meditationes in Evangelia project is still counted as one of his greatest legacies.

Figure 2.12
Figure 2.12

Frontispiece of Jerónimo Nadal, Evangelicae historiae imagines (Antwerp: Society of Jesus, 1593), reprinted in Jerónimo Nadal, Adnotationes et meditationes in Evangelia quae in sacrosancto Missae sacrificio toto anno leguntur (Antwerp: Martin Nuyts, 1595), engraving (call no. LP 9.386 C RP). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

The emphasis on the visual disposition of place was how Nadal distinguished his work from earlier illustrated books, like Frans de Costere’s (1532–1619) Vyftich meditatien van de gantsche historie der Passie en des lijdens Ons Heeren Jesu Christi (Fifty meditations on the whole history of the passion and suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ [Antwerp: Christophe Plantin, 1587]), the first pictorial life of Christ composed for a Jesuit text and an important in-house antecedent for the Evangelicae.149 He achieved this by an extraordinary four-part, word–image composition, as seen in the Adoration of the Magi (Mt 2[:1–12]), from top to bottom: (1) the Gospel text; (2) the image with major events and locations marked by letters; (3) expanded upon at the bottom of the page with annotations for exegetical or historical elements of the text; and (4) completed with a meditation on the subsequent pages, often in colloquy form (fig. 2.13).150 The purpose of Nadal’s compounded structure was to conjure up the Spiritual Exercises’ well-known “composition of place” (compositio loci) through the application of the senses, which has been expressed as “ex libera meditatione,” giving free rein to the imagination in prayer to leave the devotee open to God’s direction.151 In the first meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius had advised:

The composition will be to see in imagination the physical place where that which I want to contemplate is taking place. By physical place I mean, for instance, a temple or a mountain where Jesus Christ or Our Lady happens to be, in accordance with the topic I desire to contemplate.152

Figure 2.13
Figure 2.13

Hieronymus Wierix, Adoration of the Magi, in Nadal, Adnotationes et meditationes in Evangelia, pl. 7, engraving (call no. LP 9.386 C RP). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

At the start of the second week, the exercitant was asked to immerse him- or herself in the kingdom of God through a series of topoi in the “Contemplation of the Kingdom of Christ,” to imagine the “synagogues, villages, and cities through which Christ wandered while preaching, and also other places” (Spiritual Exercises, v. 91).153 With the indication of presence by geographic reference points and the citation of local, regional, and universal contexts, the Spiritual Exercises showcased the locative imagination from a kaleidoscope of perceptive, representative, and introspective viewpoints.154

Under Nadal’s guidance, Melion has remarked, if the annotations detailed the experience of the composition of place in the Spiritual Exercises, the meditations provided the rhetorical devices to transform place into spaces of contemplation.155 For example, in Nadal’s Adoration of the Magi, the episode was recreated like a theatrical mise en scène. The reflection begins at the entry gate to Bethlehem in the central middle ground (A); leaping up to the star in the upper-right corner that directed the Magi to Jesus’s location (B); then boomeranging back to another gate, where they entered the city (C), with a smaller “A” to underscore the motif’s repetition, reenacting the path of the Magi; before reaching the scene’s subject in the right foreground, the Virgin cradling the Christ Child before a cave (D). In this telling, the story is one of constant, staggered approach, from ox and donkey (E); to the three kings lined up to hand over their gifts (F–H); and a seemingly endless stream of figures winding over hill and dale, crossing a bridge from the city to adore the baby Jesus (I). The narrative then closes through the vocabulary of place: the Magi return home through another gate to the city (K); coming full circle back to the scene’s starting point, before repeating the initial sequence in reverse, this time to the left extreme background of Christ’s baptism in Bethlehem (L); crowned by the wedding in the fortified mountain-top compound of Cana (M). This rehearsal of a series of sites conferred a topographical organization on the pictorial narrative and demonstrated how a “way of proceeding” could be retrofitted as an Ignatian “way of looking” through place.156

The intention to explore place as a meditational technique can already be traced in the notoriously complicated genesis of the Evangelicae: from its motivation to the arbitration of immediate and ancient predecessors, from the logistics of commissioning the right artists to its approval by author and superior general, and from the first edition through its determinative revisions for the Adnotationes et meditationes in Evangelia.157 Thanks to the pioneering work of Maj-Brit Wadell, the first drawings for the Evangelicae, likely supervised by Nadal himself and today housed in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Rome, have been assigned to the Roman artist Livio Agresti (1508–80) from the late 1550s or early 1560s, like this study for the Adoration of the Magi (fig. 2.14). The use of letters in the pictorial field for elaboration below already appears, but pictorial focus at the beginning of the development of the idea was trained on the numbers of figures weaving through an undifferentiated swath of landscape. A second set of red chalk drawings in Windsor Castle, attributed to the Florentine Fiammeri and produced around 1579–85, re-oriented Agresti’s horizontal compositions to vertical ones, tightening the connections between figures in the foreground with the incorporation of several buildings, as seen for this subject in the middle ground (fig. 2.15). It was these new configurations that were copied in a third set of ink drawings in the Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique in Brussels by Bernardino Passeri (c.1530/40–96), working in the mid-1580s, who concentrated attention on the main figures, honing narratives for historical accuracy and transforming the atmospheric impressions of Fiammeri’s red-chalk drawings into pen and ink modelli that the printmakers would find legible enough for incising plates (fig. 2.16). Passeri’s drawings then formed the basis for the first engravings that would be redesigned by Maerten de Vos (1532–1603), often with the architectural settlements visible here, and it is de Vos’s compositions that the Wierixes, the Collaerts, and de Mallery would sharpen into the site-driven imagery, now with a substantial urban landscape, displayed in the horizontally reversed, definitive designs (figs. 2.13, 2.16).158 Place was the imagined pictorial vernacular by which Jesuits formed their spiritual personae, so Jesuit art reflected, and had come to shape, this seminal idea in equal measure.

Figure 2.14
Figure 2.14

Livio Agresti, Adoration of the Magi, c.1555–62, brown ink on paper (inv. no. 71.4.F.1/7). Rome, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale “Vittorio Emanuele II,” Sala Manoscritti e Rari

Photo: © Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale “ Vittorio Emanuele II”
Figure 2.15
Figure 2.15

Giovanni Battista Fiammeri (attributed), Adoration of the Magi, c.1579–85, red chalk on paper (inv. no. 914775). Windsor, Windsor Castle

Photo: © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020/Royal Collection Trust
Figure 2.16
Figure 2.16

Bernardino Passeri and Maerten de Vos, Adoration of the Magi, in Jerónimo Nadal, Evangelicae historiae imagines (Rome: Society of Jesus, 1586), pen and brown ink on paper, pl. 7, fol. I24ʳ (call no. DES RES 4º–XVIe s. italien–Bernardino Passeri–VB 658 4C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Prints and Drawings

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

But for every stress on the logistics of place in the narrative, the Evangelicae historiae imagines also, intriguingly, marked the act of displacement that ensured the “composition of place” never unfolded as expected.159 In the Annunciation (Lk 1[:26–38]), it might be supposed that the descent from God the Father with the council of angels in the upper-left corner, deciding who would announce the incarnation (A); to the sending of Gabriel (B); to the transition from clouds to rays of light en route to the Virgin (C); would culminate in the person of Mary (fig. 2.17).160 Yet the eye is forced to digress and jump up to the wall of the rustic building (D), and it is the room (“Cubiculum”) where the diagonal ends, well apart from the main point of the scene in the foreground: the entrance of the angel to inform Mary that she would be the Mother of Jesus (E). The location of the Virgin, in Loreto in the province of Ascoli Piceno (“quod visitur Laureti in agro / Piceno, vbi est Maria”), has superseded the main protagonist of the story, and a box, a stage setting of a furnished room, like an improbable biblical time machine, displays a vision from another time and place instead. Nicolas Standaert, S.J. has asserted that the disjunction of Mary’s room caused by the digression in the approach allowed it to function as a sign of dislocation.161 It referenced both the concrete reality of her house in Loreto, itself miraculously re-placed and transported by angels from Nazareth according to a late thirteenth-century legend, and a tacit advocacy for how changes in place could stimulate a reorientation in spiritual outlook. Displacement did not have a scriptural foundation; the image was not so much derived from text as it provided an apocryphal exegesis based on lived experience, a by-product of the friction between the image as representation and the image as an expression of will, between the actual and the plausible.162 Another dislocation of the assumed trajectory then jarringly shifts the eye to the upper-right corner, so the three last letters return to the central subject by placing it in cosmic time: “F” paralleled the day of the creation of man with Christ’s incarnation in the heavens above; “G” noted that the feast day of the annunciation (March 25) was the same day as the crucifixion in the hazy middle ground; and “H,” in the lower left of the picture, suggested that it was also the same day that saints of the Old Covenant stuck in limbo heard their redemption announced. This postscript guarded against the danger of projecting a personal account onto the Gospel narrative, displacing the ego to configure identity through its shifting counterpoint to place, a progression Standaert summed up as: “By a mental adoption of place, we are thus ‘relocated’ as persons.”163

Figure 2.17
Figure 2.17

Hieronymus Wierix, Annunciation, in Nadal, Adnotationes et meditationes in Evangelia, pl. 1, engraving (call no. LP 9.386 C RP). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

What makes the Annunciation one of the most pure distillations of the strategy of spatial dislocation in the Evangelicae, besides being the first image in the main body of the original edition, is its focus on an open room, with its side wall removed, as the dominant feature of the composition.164 The purpose of prayer in the Ignatian practice was to unlock a “third space,” or room for spiritual encounter that defied the immutable earthly laws of time and space to unveil new opportunities.165 Place therefore also functioned as a limit, a fracturing of sight, like a horizon line, and to be “in place” meant to be engaged with the other of encounter.166 The Evangelicae was fundamentally premised on mental contact, not a bibliodrama or the psychology of the meditator, but instead the opportunity to interact with biblical figures that required a “third space” to facilitate the meeting.167 This was just as extreme a thought experiment then as it sounds today. In an era of reform, when issues of church authority were highly contentious, Jesuits premised contact with God on a dynamic, dialogic model.168 Where earlier spirituality, and the imagery it inspired, had by and large presented a preordained path, Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines acted as proxy for the viewer to determine his or her own approach to Christ, angels, and saints, instead of merely echoing the approved evangelical sources.169 The Evangelicae historiae imagines functioned as if the imitatio Christi (imitation of Christ) of the Spiritual Exercises had come to life. It was not so much about knowing episodes from the life of Christ, which had become a commonplace by this time, pictorially and textually. Rather, place and personhood were conjoined as cause and effect, for it was through the “composition of place” that the objective of the Spiritual Exercises, the individual’s encounter with Jesus, was attained.170 Attention was focused not only on the spiritual identity of a Jesuit, but also on acquaintanceship with Jesus Christ, and it was this desire for a person-to-person relationship within a locus of encounter that shaped the identity of Jesuit art.171

The Evangelicae historiae imagines was therefore as much about place as its fertile negation, distilling an almost iconoclastic ambivalence to imagery into a quality more characteristic of Jesuit art-making than any single stylistic filter.172 That the Jesuit art of displacement was above all a mechanism of Catholic reform was in no small part due to Nadal’s vision of the Society as a staunch rebuttal to Protestantism, as evinced by his linking of Ignatius’s religious conversion with the excommunication of Martin Luther (1483–1546) by virtue of its occurrence in the same year (1521).173 So it is hardly surprising that aspects of Jesuit art and architecture overlapped with the innovations of Protestant reform, seen in the adoption of their architectural precepts, like the preaching church, and the use of the tetragrammaton as an occasional textual citation of God in place of figural representation.174 Less expected, however, was a topographical organization that relied on the ostensibly contradictory principle of “no-place,” or eu-topia, of the Foundation in the Spiritual Exercises that grounded place in the everywhere of world, which was, by definition, found to be nowhere.175 The early modern devotional image had been justified by the doctrine of the incarnation, which provided the rationale for the spiritual to assume substance, where Christ was held as a form-giving exemplum of Aristotelian entelechy (endelechia), perhaps no better template for the generation of a new order’s art.176 But Jesuits perceived that the fall of man likewise caused the disruption of the place of Christ for person and picture, and it was this disjunctive arrangement that let repetition coexist with orientation by dislocation. In other words, the imitation of Christ was problematized and resolved as complementary modalities of the active and the contemplative life, deed and meditative instrument working in tandem. What Fabre has called a “melancholic attitude” (“attitude mélancolique”), founded on the composition of place as an exercise in the negation or dismantling of self, was the operative definition of a Jesuit aesthetic, one that used the complicated status of imagery in the post-Tridentine era to drive home the competing refractions of place, particularly in the admixture of discrete sites fostered by the mass dissemination of prints, in the construction of the self.177

What might be portrayed as the liminal borderland between image and world, where the logistics of printmaking and a revised pictorial poetics of place converged, created an ideal situation for the widespread copying of the Evangelicae historiae imagines. Thomas Buser cast Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines as a catalyst for Jesuit art in Rome, and quotations of the Evangelicae are easily charted, such as the frescoes for the Church of San Stefano Rotondo (with letters) by Niccolò Circignani (c.1517–c.1597), already in 1582, and the Basilica of San Vitale (without letters) by a follower of Paul Bril (c.1554–1626), around 1599 (fig. 2.18).178 Miguel Nicolau, S.J. has traced forty-six of the 160 anonymous engravings in the Vita D.N. Iesu Christi (Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ [Rome: Bartolomeo Zanetti, 1607]) by Bartolomeo Ricci (1542–1613), novice master at Sant’Andrea a Monte Cavallo (later the site of Sant’Andrea al Quirinale) in Rome, to the plates from Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines, many of its images later appearing in an illustrated edition of the Spiritual Exercises published in Antwerp in 1640.179 The popularity of the Evangelicae for mission made it the single most popular print source to circulate among the Jesuit missions around the world, and the Society’s efforts to cultivate a global audience with the “Biblia Natalis” resulted in the appearance of Nadal’s imagery in Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and South America.180 In China, direct compositional borrowing was tweaked with local stylistic modifications, the Sinicized curls of cloud tumuli belying the western source of the annunciation scene for Giulio Aleni’s (1582–1649) Tian zhu jiang sheng chu xiang jing jie (An illustrated history of the Lord of Heaven who became incarnate in the flesh [Jinjiang: Jing Jiao Tang, 1637]) (figs. 2.17, 2.19).181 Before the Evangelicae historiae imagines had been completed, it may already have been anticipated among such Jesuits in Japan as Marco Ferraro (1584–1628), who requested “un libro del P. Natale” (a book by Father Nadal) in a letter (October 25, 1587) six years before the book was first published.182 But as tempting as it may be to trace the compositional progeny of the Evangelicae historiae imagines around the world, the consequences were much greater than literal tributes may imply. The caesurae of the Nadalian pattern opened the way for an extreme adaptability that made it an ideal paradigm for other art, as its absences revealed an unbounded capacity for pictorial ventures steeped in the permutations of place.183 Even a cursory overview of Jesuit art, as presented in “Part 1: Introduction,” shows a definite preference for a locale-specific vocabulary, be it in a stylistic or a material idiom, that provided the right ratio of consistency to imagination, Gospel acts understood through a topographic lens ex libera meditatione. Nadal’s recalibration of the coordinates of the image would undergird Jesuit art beneath its many surfaces and generate one of the Society’s most consequential and nimble contributions to art history.

Figure 2.18
Figure 2.18

Niccolò Circignani, Martyrdom of Christians in Africa during the Reign of Hunneric, King of the Vandals (Fresco 29), 1582, fresco. Rome, Santo Stefano Rotondo

Photo: © Zeno Colantoni
Figure 2.19
Figure 2.19

Chinese Artist, Annunciation, in Giulio Aleni, Tian zhu jiang sheng chu xiang jing jie (Jinjiang: Jing Jiao Tang, 1637), fol. 6ʳ, woodcut (call no. Cod.sin. 23). Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Photo: © Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

2.4 The Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv

There was a third book that significantly contributed to the systemization of a visual language for the Society of Jesus: the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, a collection of emblems to commemorate the first centennial of the Society of Jesus (fig. 2.20).184 It was the product of a collaboration led by the Jesuit provincial of Flanders, Jan De Tollenaere (1582–1643), under the principal editorship of Jean de Bolland (1596–1665), assisted by Godfried Henskens (1601–81), with the neo-Latinist poets Sidron de Hossche (1596–1630) and Jakob Van De Walle (1599–1690) contributing the text, and Cornelis I Galle (1576–1650) and the Rubens student Philippe Fruytiers (1610–66) executing the images. Like many of the Jesuit bestsellers, the Imago was published in Antwerp at the Plantin Press, and it was conceived as a luxury edition, priced at eighteen florins with an initial print run of 1,050 copies that sold out quickly.185 At 952 folio-sized pages, encompassing 127 emblems, across two volumes, the book used prose and poetry, in Latin (124 poems), Greek (seven poems), and Hebrew (four poems), to explicate enigmatic imagery.186 And with numerous references to classical literature (Virgil, 70 BCE–19 BCE; Ovid, 43 BCE–17/18 CE; and Horace, 65 BCE–8 BCE) in a virtuoso display of eleven different poetic meters and the use of cerebral puzzles, few books could match its lightly worn erudition or playful eloquence. Its six chapters ranged from the origins and development of the Society (“Societas nascens” and “Societas crescens,” books 1 and 2); to Jesuit ministries and activities (“Societas agens,” book 3); the order’s adversity and suffering (“Societas patiens,” book 4); its notable achievements and honored men in the vein of the ancient viri illustri (“Societas honorata,” book 5); and a special section dedicated to the Flemish province (“Societas Flandro-Belgica,” book 6), which comprised the two largest provinces of the Society, Flemish and Walloon, whose total number of 860 members in 1640 distinguished this region as holding the largest number of Jesuits per square mile in the world.187 The Imago was not the first emblem book, the earliest religious emblem book, or the Society’s pioneering emblem book.188 After Nadal’s complex system of captions in the picture field, prominent early Jesuit emblem books must include the Flemish Jesuit Jan David’s (c.1545–1613) four emblem books (Antwerp: Plantin Press under Jan Moretus, 1600–10) and the Roman Jesuit Sylvestro Pietrasanta’s (1590–1647) De symbolis heroicis libri IX (Nine books of heroic symbols [Antwerp: Plantin Press under Balthasar Moretus, 1634]), whose 281 two-part heraldic devices would provide a basis for the Imago.189 But as the most widely distributed of the Society’s emblem books by Jesuits, for Jesuits, the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv would become a critical agent in the production of Jesuit identity.

Figure 2.20
Figure 2.20

Frontispiece, in Jean de Bolland and Godfried Henskens, eds., Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv (Antwerp: Plantin Press under Balthasar Moretus, 1640), engraving (call no. VB 8.556 C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

Image-making as a metaphor for Jesuit formation became the principal working analogy of their emblems, as suggested by the title of the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, the “image” of the Society of Jesus’s first century of existence, when they numbered sixteen thousand men across forty provinces worldwide.190 Paul Begheyn, S.J. has noted that the word “emblem” derives from the ancient Greek en/bléma, literally “struck in,” as in a scene, Persecutionis meritum, focused on the adversities that stamped Jesuits, where the hammering of an artisan’s anvil is equated with formation in Christ’s image: “The image of CHRIST, whom you follow as / leader, will glisten all the more, beaten out with blows. / Nobler because of your wounds and your bloodshed, its / honor and value will increase from the iron itself.” (fig. 2.21).191 An emblem consisted of at least a three-part format, from top to bottom: (1) the pictura, such as the picture of a blacksmith at work; (2) the motto, also called the inscriptio, which condensed the didactic point, as in “Blows bestow value” (“Dant pretium plagae.”), often drawn from proverbs, the Bible, and well-known classical texts; and (3) the subscriptio, or explanatory poem that amplified the weight of the picture through the art of memory, here located beneath the image proper, its lines opening with: “What fierce hurricanes weighted with insults thunder / in vain against the holy Companions of JESUS?” (“Qvid saeua frustrà detonat in sacros / IESV Sodales opprobriis grauis / Procella?”).192 The Imago emblems also included the less common feature of a fourth part, the titulus, or title at the top of the page, as in this case, “The Merit of Persecution” (“Persecutionis meritum.”).

Figure 2.21
Figure 2.21

Cornelis Galle and Philippe Fruytiers, Persecutionis meritum, in de Bolland and Henskens, eds., Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, 576, engraving (call no. VB 8.556 C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

If a compound word–image system was already familiar from Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines, Imago subjects were no longer episodes from the Gospel, but synoptic allegories that disclosed why a Jesuit did what he did and how such actions molded his very being, turning this book into what O’Malley has characterized as “an elaborate catechism about paragons of Jesuit life.”193 The workings of the emblem depended on the relationship between the parts of an image in the making of knowledge, as the Spiritual Exercises had done for contact between people, where the correct interpretation was situated in the links between phrase and picture, a very Ignatian approach with meaning harbored in interstices, shifting relations, and a “way of proceeding.” Emblems might be supposed the most Jesuit of literary genre.194 It has been estimated that some 1,700 emblem books can be assigned to early modern Jesuit authors, of which the Flemish province produced one-fifth, so members of the Society were responsible for thirty-four percent of all emblem books in the early modern period, and as a single group composed more than all other Catholic religious orders combined.195 In the hands of Jesuits, what began as a spiritually grounded system of representation flourished into a requisite aid for one of its premier ministries, the humanist pedagogy of the Jesuit educational system, the Ratio studiorum, that placed great value on sacra eloquentia, or eloquent rhetoric in the service of sacred causes, and consequently the practice of emblem exhibitions, or affixiones, in Jesuit colleges.196 Jesuit emblem books also enjoyed great popularity in society at large, as the case of the German Jesuit Jeremias Drexel (1581–1638) suggests: between 1618 and 1642, 170,000 copies of Drexel’s twelve emblem books were sold by his three Munich publishers when the city had only twenty-two thousand inhabitants.197

The Frontispiece of the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv set the tone with its lively band of assorted putti, laurel wreaths aloft, horns blazing, and banderoles flying around the architectural scaffolding in a stirring performance of the Aristotelian epideictic ceremonial oratory (fig. 2.20). Two themes defined the Imago’s repercussions for the visual shaping of Jesuit identity, established by the subsidiary scenes found in its six cartouches and two column pedestals. The first and dominant theme underscored the limitless range of the Society of Jesus, where the world operated as both origin and objective.198 The sun, moon, and earth circumscribed the transmission of the Jesuit message around the earth via light and sound in the framing text of at least the first four vignettes (and debatably all the pictorial scenes) and the putto with the trumpet in the upper-right corner.199 Where the Spiritual Exercises highlighted the life-changing moment of self-discovery grounded in the world, and Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines used the juxtaposition of word and image to focus on the push and pull between place and non-place in encounter with the other, the Imago expressed the centrality of topography through the cosmic dimensions of divine omnipresence. Its first emblem, Societas Iesv, defined the Society of Jesus as the sun whose rays nurture the earth, from the motto, “There Is No Person Who Might Hide Himself from His Warmth, Psalm 18[:7]” (“Non est qui se abscondat à calore eius. Psal. 18.”), to the last lines of its poem, which renewed the charge famously attributed to St. Ignatius as the exhortation he favored in the closing of his letters to “go forth and set the world on fire” (“Ite inflammate omnia.”): “What the rays of the Sun do, / the Company of JESUS also accomplishes. All the earth / where it stretches far and wide is set aflame by it” (fig. 2.22).200 Later, in the emblem Societatis Iesv propagatio, a candle shining brightly in a landscape was equated with the Society enlightening the world: “The Spread of the Society of Jesus. / Where once it is lit, it will then and there fill the world with light” (“Societatis Iesv propagatio. / Vt semel accensa est, simul implet luminis orbem.”) (fig. 2.23).201 The sun, the earth, the candle, the wooded landscape were all part of the “similitude of real things” in a world-affirming spirituality, the visible signs of the “sacrament of the invisible” that registered the emblem book as liber mundi, again the vita contemplativa (contemplative life) inextricable from the vita activa (active life), all ideas introduced by Ignatius and spread by Nadal that invited an emblematic reading of the world.202

Figure 2.22
Figure 2.22

Cornelis Galle and Philippe Fruytiers, Societas Iesv, in de Bolland and Henskens, eds., Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, 43, engraving (call no. VB 8.556 C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique
Figure 2.23
Figure 2.23

Cornelis Galle and Philippe Fruytiers, Societatis Iesv propagatio, in de Bolland and Henskens, eds., Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, 317, engraving (call no. VB 8.556 C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

Yet the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv was not simply the conclusion of a world perspective. The Society nurtured the global ambitions of the post-Tridentine Roman Catholic Church, and the Imago presented the enlargement to a world arena as an antidote to Protestantism and a pledge to propel Catholicism’s triumph as a universal faith into the future.203 Two globes, East and West, appear paired twice in a pictorial language that was expressly providential and mission-oriented. The first time follows the candle emblem, reassuring readers that the worldwide presence of the Society of Jesus fulfills the prophecy of the messenger Malachi (“Societas Iesv toto orbe diffusa implet prophetiam Malachiae.”).204 The second occurrence arrives several pages afterward, in the emblem Societatis Missiones Indicae, under the auspices of the Society’s mission to India, which occupied the half-way point on voyages between the two hemispheres (fig. 2.24). The motto reads: “One world is not enough” (“Vnus non sufficit orbis.”), the oft-repeated rallying cry for missionary ministry that invoked a Christian humanist representation of western exploration to remind readers that the “standards of JESUS” (“signa IESV”)—whose language conjured up the spiritual armor of “The Contemplation of the Kingdom of Christ” during the second week of the Spiritual Exercises (Spiritual Exercises, v. 91–99) and the fourth day of “Meditation on the Two Standards” (Spiritual Exercises, v. 136–48)—prevailed over the banners of any temporal leader past or present.205 The Imago’s pictures resulted from a search for a cosmic symbolism that would require the creation of a redesigned iconography and then expand far beyond it. At the time, the emblem was viewed as the quintessential form of argumentation for its emphasis on alacritas (vivacity, cleverness, enthusiasm), which touched upon factors of novitas (novelty), admiratio (wonder), and resourceful invention, especially when combined with the two pillars of rhetoric, copia (abundance, amplification) and varietas (variety, variation, variegation), that drew upon a series of unusual metaphors to capture attention and ensure a memorable message.206 Jesuit emblem books, like the Imago, celebrated the role of human ingenuity in making a message sympathetic, the symbolic image as the touchstone of oratorical prowess. Marc Fumaroli (1932–2020) has identified the Imago as the apex of a Jesuit “Asian” rhetorical style, in the classical categories, with its facility for dazzling displays of verbal pyrotechnics and exuberant abundance, over the sober, understated logic of the “Attic” school.207 This flair for the virtuoso effect was vital to Tridentine efforts to win back the public imagination and would later be grafted onto the distinction between the baroque and classicism. But importantly, for Jesuits, it oriented picturing to geography, where the many places and races encountered around the world beckoned propitiously.

Figure 2.24
Figure 2.24

Cornelis Galle and Philippe Fruytiers, Societatis Missiones Indicae, in de Bolland and Henskens, eds., Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, 326, engraving (call no. VB 8.556 C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

For the anticipated outcome of the world as goal was also noted in the Frontispiece of the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, and its second theme, the fruitful palm tree, imparts the legacy of the Society of Jesus for art (fig. 2.20).208 To Jesuits, this Mediterranean tree signaled their efforts to promote Roman Catholicism as a worldwide faith, in line with the message of Psalm 91:15 below the Frontispiece palm tree that runs across the bases of the left column (“In bountiful old age. Psalm 91.,” “In senectâ uberi. Psal. 91.”); the central scroll (“They will yet be multiplied. Psalm 91.,” “Adhuc multiplicabuntur. Ps. 91.”); and the right column (“And they will be well-enduring. Psalm 91.,” “Et benepatientes erunt. Ps. 91.”).209 That the Society envisioned its impact in explicitly global terms was already clarified in an opening emblem, the Societas anno saeculari copoiosos fructus promittit, complete with the repetition of the palm tree motif and a reference to the same Psalm—“The Society Gives Assurance of Bounteous Produce in Its Centenary Year. / In bountiful old age. Psalm 91[:15]” (“Societas anno saeculari copiosos fructus promittit. / In senectâ vberi. Psal. 91.”)—where its pendant poem explains (fig. 2.25):

This, Loiola, is your tree that JESUS
planted and he himself again and again nurtured with his
own hand. It has been the target of many winds, of many
gales. Nevertheless from this it has absorbed its spirit,
from this its own resource. It stands secure and now it
embraces the whole world with its branches. And now it
will be heavy with produce, as from long life. Its supply
of fruit will grow as the centuries will grow, and each
and every subsequent year will be more fecund.210
Figure 2.25
Figure 2.25

Cornelis Galle and Philippe Fruytiers, Societas anno saeculari copiosos fructus promittit, in de Bolland and Henskens, eds., Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, 50, engraving (call no. VB 8.556 C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

But to create a truly catholic Roman Catholic Church, Jesuits realized that conventional tools had to be revised, and for art, this meant revisiting what defined imagery, how it should be used, and when it could be trusted. Jesuit illustrated books were highly self-conscious constructions, whose authors carefully attended to the way visual evidence staked its claims, as in the prefaces and dedications of David’s emblem books, which laid the groundwork for a “doctrina imaginis” that privileged images as instruments of spiritual reflection, instruction, and renewal.211 Picture-making as a means of holding the image of Christ to the soul was a popular conceit, as in the Imago emblem entitled Institutio iuuentutis (The education of youth), whose motto repeats in Greek and Latin: “Until CHRIST Takes Shape in You. Galatians 4[:19]” (“Achris ou morphôthê Christos en hymîn. / Donec formetur CHRISTUS in vobis. Gal. 4.”), and whose poem depicts Jesuits as artists of the spirit: “Shape and carve, O thrice-blessed / sculptors of minds. […] / You create not the shapes of mortals and / of goddesses, but your carvings are the Divine Christ” (fig. 2.26).212 In the picture, the statue of Christ extends his finger, like Michelangelo’s (1475–1564) God bestowing the spark of life to Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, to infuse the sculptor with genius, but unusually, Christ indicates the battery-like globus cruciger in his right hand as its source. Dekoninck has maintained that by the time of the Imago, continuing efforts to evangelize the New World had encouraged the formation of new members of the Roman Catholic Church as products of Bildung in Christianity’s own Pygmalion myth.213 Jesuits took the world and its original mechanisms of communication as a starting point for their ars symbolica (symbolic art), the verbo-visual compound of emblems thought to be the most faithful vestige of ancient Adamic language. They sought to inaugurate a novel lingua universalis (universal language) that could restore the harmony lost between God and world, wherein the Imago’s emblems became “one body with the world, a pure reflection of the divine, before the Fall threw a veil of mystery over creation.”214 Through the combination of world and spiritual fecundity, the authors of the Imago attempted to forge a common, healing visual language from a globally constructed notion of the fallen self in a riven society.215

Figure 2.26
Figure 2.26

Cornelis Galle and Philippe Fruytiers, Institutio iuuentutis, in de Bolland and Henskens, eds., Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, 468, engraving (call no. VB 8.556 C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

As a result, the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv was a more public-facing text than either the Spiritual Exercises or Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines; it sought to dispense an everyman’s message in the emblem Societatis operarij (Laborers of the Society), which advises the adoption of an “all for all” (“Omnibus omnia.”) approach, a reference to 1 Corinthians 9:22: “I / have become all things to all people, that I might by all means / save some” (fig. 2.27).216 In what might be considered the final rebuttal to a single “Jesuit style,” its poem explains that apparent dissimilarity need not detract from a consistent identity, as can be seen in the range of Jesuit art:

As in a mirror, appearances and movements gleam back
and the smooth surface returns the details that confront it,
in similar fashion resourceful love turns itself into all the
shapes of humankind so that it becomes ALL THINGS
TO ALL PEOPLE.
Figure 2.27
Figure 2.27

Cornelis Galle and Philippe Fruytiers, Societatis operarij, in de Bolland and Henskens, eds., Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, 452, engraving (call no. VB 8.556 C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

Melion and Dekoninck have interpreted this idea as, “whether a person was black or white, beautiful or ugly mattered not a wit, for Ignatius mirrored the body to capture the soul.”217 The poem concludes: “That love might / render everyone similar to himself, he himself, we may / be sure, is time after time rendered unlike himself,” in a fairly radical reimagining of the elastic potential of mimetic reproduction. Foundations for Jesuit art passed over appearances and were not concerned with skin-deep beauty or a specific style; ethical criteria trumped aesthetic traits in a spirituality that cherished the abundance and variety of the world and its peoples.218

Books like the Spiritual Exercises, Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines, and the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv provided an imaginotheca, or portable library of ideas, for mixing and matching motifs, to endow pictorial communication with ever more rhetorical force and Ignatian techniques of argumentation.219 Visual descendants from the Imago can also be located around the world and across media: first for emblem paintings, or affixiones, like those that would decorate the Jesuit Church of St. Charles Borromeo in Antwerp for the jubilee celebrations in 1640, and then more distantly with twenty emblems in the stained glass windows of the Church of St. Jodoc (or St. Josse) in Blatten, near Malters (canton of Lucerne, Switzerland, 1656–57), forty emblems in the polychrome reliefs of the Jesuit Church of San Salvador and Santo Domingo de Silos in Cordoba (Argentina, c.1671), and elements drawn from at least two emblems in an elaborate retable in the Iglesia San Ignacio in Bogotá (Colombia) by the sculptor Pedro Laboria (c.1700–70) in 1748.220 This trail of shared designs is telling not only for its concrete examples of how illustrated books shaped a pictorial habitus beyond simply other books, which has been widely recognized, but also for its testimony to how the concepts that would come to characterize Jesuit imagery were explored. The sources of an early modern “Jesuit style” culminated in a discourse of emblems epitomized by books like the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, one whose symbolic culture would leave its indelible trace on the Society’s identity, for better or worse, and whose universal language would prefigure the formulation of iconology, as Dekoninck has contended, and I would argue further, the structure of the modern image.221

Part 3: Contributions

3.1 The Networked Image

Today’s researcher of Jesuit art is well placed to assume a Janus-like point of view, in honor of the ancient Roman god’s ability to see both past and future, for he or she can as easily look to its sources as consider how it contributed to the longue durée of art history. The worldwide production of western art pioneered by the Jesuits resulted in a modern image defined by its networks, technological innovation, and subjective posture, all systems sympathetic to the transition-rich Ignatian “way of proceeding.” The exemplary case of the networked image is the Salus Populi Romani Madonna, as it registered four frameworks, beginning with the global Jesuit network in which it was constructed. The Salus Populi Romani Madonna was the miraculous icon Blessed Inácio de Azevedo displayed in his portrait, one that has long enjoyed the continued devotion of the Society of Jesus, as seen in Pope Francis I’s visit before his trip to Brazil in 2013 (figs. 1.6–1.7). The Salus Populi Romani Madonna, purported to have been painted by the Evangelist St. Luke, depicts Mary cradling the Christ Child as he holds a book in his left hand and raises his right hand in benediction (fig. 3.1). Its cabinet-sized dimensions belie its global significance, since the circulation of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna created a single continuum for artistic fabrication that could serve Europe and the Society’s extra-continental missions. Copies of this specific Madonna can be found wherever Jesuits were active in the early modern world, from Rome to the farthest reaches in Japan and everywhere in between. For example, an oil-on-copper Salus Populi Romani Madonna in the Tokyo National Museum has been attributed to a western artist, due to stylistic and material analysis (fig. 3.2).222 Some European artists—Sigismondo Laire (1552–1639), Valeriano, and João de Mayorga (c.1533–70), for example—were known to specialize in reproductions of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna. Valeriano would garner an international reputation for his copies of the Madonna, judging by a letter from Alessandro Valignano (1539–1606), Jesuit visitor to the Indies (South, Southeast, and East Asia), imploring Superior General Mercurian to send Valeriano to Japan in 1575.223

Figure 3.1
Figure 3.1

Anonymous, Salus Populi Romani Madonna, sixth–tenth century, tempera on panel. Rome, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Borghese Chapel

Photo: © Foto Vasari Roma/Alessandro Vasari (inv. no. 04/06/ek)
Figure 3.2
Figure 3.2

Anonymous, Salus Populi Romani Madonna, late sixteenth century–early seventeenth century, oil on copper (inv. no. C695). Tokyo, Tokyo National Museum

Photo: © TNM Image Archives

Other copies of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna were made on site, and their iconographic details reveal not only before and after versions of the icon, but also preferences derived from multiple stops along various itineraries.224 So, subsequent to a stop-over in Agra or Goa, Ethiopian versions of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna could appear with immaculate conception scenes, in which Mary’s hair was bound in a topknot, or depictions of the Raising of Adam and Eve, complete with Indian fabrics and poses.225 Copies of second- and third-generation replicas of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna enabled the image to reach ever-widening audiences. After Bishop Pedro Martins’s (or Martínez, 1542–98) visit to the Niccolò workshop at the Arie Seminary in Japan in 1596, Frois would observe:

Finally, the thing which astonished them the most was to enter a long building overflowing with boys and young men who were painters, every one of them with his picture in his hand, painting various images in oil, which, when they were finished, the Father Vice-Provincial went to hand out to the Christian gentlemen and those in the Society. At the front of this building was placed an image of Our Lady after St. Luke painted by one of these students who was nineteen years old [i.e., Luís Shizuoka]. They were at great pains to believe that such a perfect and accomplished work had been produced by a mere boy.226

At its most basic level, the Salus Populi Romani Madonna copies were the natural accretion of the extensive global Jesuit network represented in Athanasius Kircher’s (1602–80) Horoscopium catholicum Societatis Iesv as a tree rising from St. Ignatius, with each branch, a Jesuit province; each leaf, a Jesuit school, novitiate, or college, to show how the data needed to make a “universal clock” was compiled (fig. 3.3).227 Jesuit visual networks, fueled by an Ignatian reverence for the world and the vita activa advocated by Nadal, functioned like Bruno Latour’s notion of awe-inspiring “retia mirabilia,” or performative “seen networks,” where the constantly shifting array of contacts and conduits mattered more than any single artistic center, in accordance with a “routes, not roots” approach.228

The second network the Salus Populi Romani Madonna relied upon was the Portuguese trade routes. One of the first copies of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna was delivered to Dona Catarina of Austria (1507–78), wife of King João III of Portugal (1502–57, r.1521–57), by Azevedo on his fatal trip to Brazil (fig. 3.4). In a letter dated July 2, 1569, Borja explained:

I am sending Your Excellency a gift that I hope will be to your royal taste, while to me it offers much consolation. I believe, in fact, that the painting that he [i.e., Azevedo] will bring to Your Excellency is certainly one of the most remarkable gifts that a queen, devoted to the Mother of God, could possess. It is a copy of the painting done by Saint Luke, preserved in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, where it is worshipped with all possible devotion. In exchange for this gift, I beg Your Excellency to put it in your chapel above the altar of your oratory, and to have for it the same devotion that the pope does in his own church.229

Figure 3.3
Figure 3.3

Pierre Miotte, Horoscopium catholicum Societatis Iesv, in Athanasius Kircher, Ars magna lucis et umbrae (Rome: Hermann Scheus and Ludovico Grignani, 1646), 553, engraving (call no. VB 5.009 1 C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique
Figure 3.4
Figure 3.4

Italian Artist, Salus Populi Romani Madonna, c.1569, oil on canvas (inv. no. 127). Lisbon, Museu de São Roque

© Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa. Photo: Júlio Marques

Before Borja sent copies of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna as diplomatic gifts to other European monarchs, such as Philip II of Spain, Elisabeth of Austria (1554–92, r.1570–74), and several German prince electors; before he directed likenesses to the devout daughters of the Holy Roman emperor Charles V, Maria of Austria (1528–1603, r.1564–76) and Joanna of Austria (1535–73, r.1552–54), who was a reputed member of the Society of Jesus under the pseudonym “Mateo Sánchez”; before he selected versions for his own first-born son Don Carlos de Borja y de Castro (1530–92) and his sisters, the honor of receiving the first reproduction of the copy of this sacred icon, like the dedication of a book, was presented to a ruler of the Portuguese realm.230 Copies of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna proliferated throughout the kingdom of Portugal, only second to those in Italy, particularly by artists such as Mayorga, who accompanied Azevedo to Brazil.231 By António Meira Marques Henriques’s accounting, at least five versions of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna should be attributed to Mayorga, all approximately the same size: the painting destined for Brazil, but also copies for the Jesuit College of Jesus in Coimbra, the College of St. Anthony in Lisbon, the College of the Holy Spirit in Évora, and the Church of St. John the Evangelist of the Jesuit College in Funchal, the capital of the island of Madeira then operating semi-autonomously, where Azevedo’s ships stopped before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.232 The replicas of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna were the material result of the allegiances that cemented global passage.

Images like the Portuguese Nation in Heinrich Scherer’s (1628–1704) Atlas novus (New atlas [Dillingen an der Donau: Johann Caspar Bencard, 1703–10]) show how the Salus Populi Romani Madonna spread abroad: the Portuguese kingdom was defined by its engagement with the peoples of India, Ethiopia, Brazil, Japan, the Hesperides Islands, and the Azores (fig. 3.5).233 These valuable outposts on the Portuguese eastern trading circuit were the very same locations where the Salus Populi Romani Madonna would appear in the world; the Jesuit network may have provided the administrative support, but without the trans-continental logistics sustained by the Portuguese monarchy, the Salus Populi Romani Madonna would never have left the shores of Belém. For western workshops located overseas, the circumvolution of imagery was simply an extension of intra-European Portuguese channels that would become what might be called a greater “Luso-exchange” network.234 A Luso-exchange provides a historically accurate model to supplement the hybridity studies popularly applied to global art that risk rehearsing the alignment of racial and ethnic heritage with regional fabrication and reenacting the “boundary fetishism” of cultural classification exposed by contact objects in national histories.235 When an expansion into a global production environment amplified the aporetic status of post-Tridentine objects, the links of the Luso-exchange effectively enhanced the authority of the devotional image.

Figure 3.5
Figure 3.5

Joseph à Montalegre after Johannes Degler, The Portuguese Nation, in Heinrich Scherer, Atlas novus exhibens orbem terraqueum per naturae opera, historiae novae ac veterus monumenta, artisque geographicae leges et praecepts (Dillingen an der Donau: August Vindel, 1702–10), vol. 4, after 38, engraving (call no. G11. S4 v. 4). Berkeley, University of California, Bancroft Library

© Public domain. Photo: University of California, Berkeley, Bancroft Library

The Society of Jesus turned to a third network, sacred art, for the chains of pictorial evidence that would guarantee the authenticity of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna’s replicas. The first copy of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna, the ground zero of reproduction, was sent to the Jesuit novitiate in Rome, whose physical fabric was later subsumed into Sant’Andrea al Quirinale, where it is currently housed in a second-floor chapel dedicated to St. Stanisław Kostka (1550–68) (fig. 3.6).236 Before the copy of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna arrived in Azevedo’s hands, before a version reached Queen Catarina, the initial likeness of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna was sent to the Society of Jesus. An inscription painted on its elaborate frame testifies to its status as the first copy (“Hanc imaginem / S. Franciscus Borgia / ab Exquilino exemplari / primam omnium esprimendam / curavit.”), and rather extraordinarily, commemorates Borja’s commissioning of the copy, instead of celebrating its artist or patron.237 Among all the achievements of the Society under Borja’s leadership, this deed would be singled out in his official biography by Pedro de Ribadeneyra (1527–1611), Vida del padre Francisco de Borja (Life of Father Francisco de Borja [Madrid: Pedro Madrigal, 1592]), and a Portrait of St. Francisco de Borja with the Salus Populi Romani Madonna by Melchior Küsell (1626–c.1683) features Borja holding a copy of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna in his left hand (fig. 3.7).238 According to the version of the story recounted by Daniello Bartoli (1608–85), during Azevedo’s farewell audience with Pope Pius V (1504–72, r.1566–72), Borja requested that the Society be permitted to copy the Salus Populi Romani Madonna icon, since their missionary work was enacted under the “Queen of Angels.”239 Although there was no precedent for it, Pope Pius permitted Borja to make the earliest official copies of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna, and in June 1569, the first copy of the Salus Populi Romani was painted by an unnamed Roman artist under the supervision of Cardinal St. Carlo Borromeo (1538–84, in office 1560–84), then archpriest of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.240 With this act, Pope Pius sealed the icon’s status as the face of universal post-Tridentine Catholicism in Rome and Munich, Lisbon and Isfahan, Bahia and Beijing, Goa and Gorgora, by providing an irrefutable temporal backing for the “authentic copies” of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna. The Society of Jesus ushered in age of replication, where copies would no longer be spurned as derivative and power dynamics shifted from the maker in favor of the mediator.

The print medium could best achieve Borja’s desire that sacred pictures be reproduced on silk, paper, and metal in “the greatest quantity to circulate images throughout the whole world,” as he exhorted the novitiate of Sant’Andrea a Monte Cavallo.241 This was the function of the engraved version of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna in ink on paper, best known from the design of Hieronymus Wierix, who also worked on the Evangelicae historiae imagines (fig. 3.8).242 The unedited manuscript of Borja’s biography, written by his twice-daily confessor Dionisio Vázquez (1528–89) in 1586, noted that copies of the first painted replica of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna were made on cloth, likely canvas and silk, as well as on metal sheets for printing.243 In the published biography of 1592, Ribadeneyra elaborated that Borja “sent various printed images on different types of materials; he even sent the kinds of printing tools and instruments needed to print other images, so that everywhere there was an abundance of such a rich treasure.”244 Contemporary chroniclers claimed that Azevedo died clutching an engraved copy or plate of the icon.245 If the Jesuit global network and a Luso-exchange provided the logistical pipelines for the creation of copies of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna, it was the early modern endorsement by “image-chain,” authenticity through pictorial descent, that paradoxically positioned the copy as the new indemnifier of legitimacy, like a visual nihil obstat. Jesuits like Canisius justified this method of endorsing sacred art in his De Maria Virgine incomparabili et Dei genitrice sacrosancta libri quinque (Five books on Mary, Incomparable Virgin and Most Holy Mother of God [Ingolstadt: David Schneider, 1577]) thusly: despite different styles and modified iconographies, representations of the Virgin could qualify as “Lukan images,” whether St. Luke painted multiple paintings himself or he executed a single archetype from which an unbroken meta-lineage of pictorial authority flowed, so long as they were made directly after one of the representations attributed to him.246 Image-chains meant that meaning unfolded in the practice of making—akin to the Ignatian approach familiar from the Spiritual Exercises, the Evangelicae historiae imagines, and the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv—and they sanctioned the material flexibility in reproduction that would become a hallmark of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna’s travels.

Figure 3.6
Figure 3.6

Anonymous Roman Artist, Salus Populi Romani, 1569, oil on panel. Rome, Sant’Andrea al Quirinale, Chapel of St. Stanislas Kostka

© Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Rome (negative no. U.PL. D44424). Photo: Oscar Savio
Figure 3.7
Figure 3.7

Melchior Küsell, Portrait of St. Francisco de Borja with the Salus Populi Romani Madonna, seventeenth century, engraving. Rome, Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, Fondo iconografico Lamalle, S. Francisco Borgia, sub nomine

Photo: © Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu
Figure 3.8
Figure 3.8

Hieronymus Wierix, Salus Populi Romani Madonna, before 1600, engraving. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, Rijksprentenkabinet

Photo: © Rijksmuseum

The fourth context, also part of how devotional art functioned, could be considered profoundly Ignatian, because networked images, like the Salus Populi Romani Madonna, focused on the citation of place: local, global, and in-between. This version was not a new copy per se, but simply a significant reframing of the original: Pope Paul V (1550–1621, r.1605–21) had the Salus Populi Romani Madonna moved within Santa Maria Maggiore, from the southwestern side of the central nave above the Porta Regina to the altar of his Cappella Paolina (January 27, 1613) (fig. 3.9).247 The Pauline reformatting of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna fixed what had been a long-standing mobile protagonist in the “Inchinata,” when the image of Christ from the Basilica of St. John the Lateran bowed to the image of Mary from Santa Maria Maggiore and then together were ritually processed and ensconced side by side in the nave. After Borja’s actions, “authentic copies” of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna extended the neighborhood santo viaggio (sacred journey) to encompass a virtual global circumnavigation while the original remained stationary in one location. The Salus Populi Romani Madonna was encased in a temple-like retable that staged the image as a venerable cult object and became a portal to another world, analogous to the elaborate architectural frontispieces of Jesuit books.248 Onofrio Panvinio (1529–68) stressed the dual roles of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna as icon (“imago”) and relic (“reliquia”) in his De praecipius urbis Romae, sanctioribusque, basilicis, quas septem ecclesias vulgo vocant (On the most excellent and holy basilicas of the city of Rome, which are commonly called the seven churches [Rome: Heirs of Antonio Blado, 1570]).249 And St. Ignatius noted the Council of Trent’s accent on the relics of saints for “amending and reforming one’s own life and state” (session 25, December 3, 1563) twice in his Spiritual Exercises (Spiritual Exercises, v. 189, 358).250 When the Salus Populi Romani Madonna was reframed as an image-tabernacle (Bildtabernakel), suspended on a mausoleum-esque wall mid-flight by a corona of golden angels, the experience of assumption could be simulated, allowing the image to operate as istoria and immagine, historical narrative and relic immemorial, in keeping with a Jesuit cosmology.251

Figure 3.9
Figure 3.9

Girolamo Rainaldi, Pompeo Targone, and Antonio Tempesta (design); Camillo Mariani, Guillaume Berthelot, and Stefano Maderno (sculpture); Domenico Ferreri and Orazio Censore (bronze), Altar Tabernacle, c.1606–17, marble, porphyry, jasper, lapis lazuli, gilt bronze, gold, silver. Rome, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Pauline Chapel

Photo: © Foto Vasari Roma/Alessandro Vasari (inv. no. 04.1/2)

The cultic associations of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna’s Pauline reformatting were picked up by a Reliquary ad Tabula, now in the Museu de São Roque in Lisbon, that features a postcard-sized oil-on-copper version as the centerpiece of an elaborate receptacle for bones from nineteen saints (fig. 3.10).252 The Lisbon Reliquary was fashioned from the “Ceylon ebony” (Diospyros ebenum) native to southern India and Sri Lanka, redolent of the Portuguese eastern trade routes, and treasured for its distant origins and the difficulty involved in carving a hard wood.253 Ebony marshaled evidential and allegorical value to support the Salus Populi Romani Madonna’s claims; like the original’s new framing system, the use of this prestigious material predicated a shift to a system that could accommodate historical and symbolic value in a single object. Early modern “relics of contact,” as opposed to popular late medieval “contact relics,” drew on the composition and disjuncture of place found in Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines. What distinguished this copy of the Salus Populi Romani Madonna was the visible record of its return to European ground, where its foreign materials marked what Annelise Riles has called the “inherent recursivity” of a network commenting on itself.254 The excerpted souvenir of missions, rooted in the physical substance of the object, had come to usurp the position of the referential memoria in the imagined genesis of new worlds, and counter-intuitively, the farther a contact object migrated from its source, or the more local it became, the more genuine the authenticity of place materials made it appear to be. The end result was a networked image, which drew on its newest contexts to “reactivate” the aura of the icon, an early example of Walter Benjamin’s (1892–1940) comment on copying in contemporary media, like photography, film, postcards, and now also applicable to video and digital art, where, “in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced.”255

Figure 3.10
Figure 3.10

Portuguese Artist, Reliquary ad Tabula with the Salus Populi Romani Madonna, second half of the seventeenth century, ebony, gilt bronze, colored glass, and oil painting on copper (inv. no. RL 1214). Lisbon, Museu de São Roque

© Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisbo A. Photo: Júlio Marques

3.2 The Technological Image

The ancient world is often celebrated for advances in pure mathematics and physics, but it was to innovations in applied mechanics and engineering by men like Archimedes of Syracuse (c.287–c.212 BCE) and Hero of Alexandria (c.10 CEc.70 CE) that Jesuits looked to realize a global sacred art.256 The prime example of making in a machine age, the creation of a technological image, was the Jesuit promotion of the printing press; in an emblem from the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, labeled Societas Iesv persecutionibus formatur (The Society of Jesus is given shape by persecutions), Jesuits even self-identified with a printer (fig. 3.11). As the printer-Jesuit prepares to feed paper and plate through the roller press, select later stages of production—the six paper pictures hanging to dry in the background, the completed images posted on the press’ frame—underscore the process of printmaking so well suited to Ignatian spirituality. The print was a fundamentally networked image, a cooperative effort often cited within the image itself: designs could be made by one artist (invenit or delineavit), after the work of a painter (pinxit), to be “carved” by an engraver (sculpsit); the plates to be printed (impressit) and issued by a publisher (excudit, divulgavit, apud, caelavit, formis, or the Dutch ten huyse van); the project often financed by another party (sumptibus); and sometimes organized under the management of someone else (direxit).257 No other order published as much as the Jesuits during this period, because the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus placed the obligation of an “apostolate of the pen” in its founding charter, where the authoring of edifying books was considered an active, pressing apostolic ministry, not merely an abstract ideal.258 Jesuit volumes were prized for their low price and accessibility; some books enjoyed individual runs of fifty thousand copies, and one catechism from 1607 had already been reprinted one hundred times by 1642.259 Antwerp became the home of not only Jesuit bestsellers, like the Evangelicae historiae imagines and the Imago, but also where at least six hundred prolific Jesuits serving in what constitutes the Netherlands and Belgium today produced works on a greater range of topics than is often recognized.260 And it was the confluence of publishing, international trade, and politico-religious worlds in this city that would inform the Society’s decision to bring prints, and the printing press, to the world at large.261

Figure 3.11
Figure 3.11

Andries Pauwels and Cornelis Galle, Societas Iesv persecutionibus formatur, in de Bolland and Henskens, eds., Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, 571, engraving (call no. VB 8.556 C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

The Societas Iesv persecutionibus formatur emblem particularly highlighted the Jesuit commitment to printing images: it features a roller press used to make intaglio images, and two finished prints—a Salus Populi Romani Madonna and a Crucifixion, the alpha and the omega of the passion narrative—imply the complete Christian pictorial compendium from “A” to “Z.” In ancient Greece, Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) has noted, both technology and art-making were referred to as technē, because art “brought the dialogue of divine and human destinies to radiance,” where “technē belongs to bringing-forth, to poiēsis” and the principle of “making in action” neatly accorded with the life of a “contemplative in action.”262 Jesuit art relied on machines to harness the transformative power of the imago agens, or “driving image,” that thrust the bodying forth of ideals before the viewer and propelled Jesuit art into a global arena.263 The press was tied to the world from its inception; it was a world-machine, like the “máquina do mundo” that Luís Vaz de Camões (c.1524–80) devised to conclude his classic ballad, Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads [Lisbon: António Gonçalves, 1572]), and this association held a particular appeal for the theoretical underpinnings of an Ignatian charism and the praxis of their missions.264 The “world-making” of machines—the printing press as an instrument of scholarship, propaganda, and conversion—restructured the relationship between object and production, when a mode of information transmission became transformative for society, as in Régis Debray’s cultural classification by “mediaspheres”: the “logisphere” of script; the “graphosphere” of the printing press; the “videosphere” of television; and the present “hypersphere” of the computer.265 Much of the analysis of cross-cultural artistic exchange has focused on translation, but the printing press also provides a model with which to consider the appearance of objects neglected by textual paradigms and outcome-oriented approaches. After all, the historian Simon Ditchfield has proposed that it may well have been the physical portability and “tradability” of sacred objects that made Roman Catholicism’s emergence as a world religion tenable.266 Technē instrumentalized topos, place and subject alike, where mechanized fabrication allowed self-description without words, a self-rhetoricizing ekphrasis by object that narrated making in its own terms to challenge the status quo.267

The appropriation of prints for the construction of subject matter can be traced in a Madonna of the Snow (Sancta Maria ad Nives or Yuki no Santa Maria) attributed to the Jesuit Niccolò School workshop in Japan and presently housed in the Twenty-Six Martyrs’ Museum in Nagasaki (fig. 3.12).268 Painted on a small scroll, or kakemono, no bigger than the size of a hand, the scroll depicts a classic Madonna, reticent, fingers steepled in prayer as she gazes downward, her wavy chestnut hair contrasting with Japanese-style bee-stung lips and a beauty mark on her left cheek. The subject of the Madonna of the Snow is a conventional one: she is the Madonna who made it snow on a hot August night in Rome to indicate to Pope Liberius (310–66, r.352–66) where Santa Maria Maggiore should be built.269 But it is neither an obvious choice for a Madonna on mission, nor an immediately identifiable one, as the Nagasaki Madonna of the Snow looks nothing like two post-Tridentine representations of the Miracle of the Snow for Santa Maria Maggiore, which featured Pope Liberius with his entourage in snowy crowd scenes and Mary either as a distant vision or entirely absent.270 The Niccolò School artist did not look to earlier western renditions of the subject; instead, he preferred to combine a selection of printed Marian iconographies that may have been at hand. Perhaps the closest source for the angle of her inclined head and the unusual 1–2–1 arrangement of her fingers is the engraving of the Immaculate Conception with Instruments of the Laurentian Litany by Theodoor Galle named by Midori Wakakuwa (1935–2007) (fig. 3.13A).271 But the crown of red flowers, evoking the ring of twelve stars in the book of Revelation 12:1–2, is more akin to representations of this subject by Hieronymus Wierix, and the style of unbound hair falling over the shoulders and uncloaked head appear more frequently in assumption imagery (figs. 3.13B–C).272 The Nagasaki version of the Madonna of the Snow was enriched with the prophetic overtones of Mary’s exemption from original sin in the immaculate conception and her triumphant coronation in the assumption, neither themes present in the Roman narrative.273 The implementation of a global art relied on the diffusion of prints, so images could be constructed on site by sampling, extracting, and re-assembling pictorial sources in an Ignatian application of the power of choice to picture-making.

Figure 3.12
Figure 3.12

Niccolò School, Madonna of the Snow, c.1590–1614, Japanese colors on paper, mounted on a hanging scroll. Nagasaki, Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum

© Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum. Photo: Renzo De L uca, S.J.
Figure 3.13A
Figure 3.13A

Theodoor Galle, Immaculate Conception with Instruments of the Laurentian Litany, before 1600, engraving (inv. no. 28113). Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum and Fondation Corboud, Graphic Arts Collection

© Rheinische Bildarchiv Cologne (Inv. no. RBA_D054627). Photo: Marc Weber
Figure 3.13B
Figure 3.13B

Hieronymus Wierix (after Maerten de Vos), Immaculate Conception with Instruments of the Laurentian Litany, c. 1577–1611, engraving (inv. no. A 47745). Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Kupferstich-Kabinett

© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Kupferstich-Kabinett Dresden. Photo: Andreas Diesend
Figure 3.13C
Figure 3.13C

Hieronymus Wierix, Assumption of the Virgin, before 1573, engraving (call no. EST RES Fº–Wierix–M.-H. 685–F 7163). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Prints and Drawings

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

A book entitled Tenchi hajimari no koto (The beginning of heaven and earth) charts the accrual of meaning to the story since its inception at Santa Maria Maggiore.274 In the hands of the Hidden Christians (Kakure or Senpuku Kirishitan), who continued to practice Christianity in secret after it was completely banned in Japan, often at mortal risk to themselves and their families, a story about building logistics in Rome became an against-the-odds parable of local resistance. Mary performs a series of miracles, variations on western accounts, such as making snow appear in June and returning from heaven crowned with flowers and the title “Madonna of the Snow,” to justify her rejection of the marriage proposal from the “King of Roson” in favor of a life of purity.275 Print-based composite objects, like the Madonna of the Snow, took a canonical subject, itself one that revolved around site selection, and compounded it with the exigencies of place, turning the capriciousness of reception into a virtue. If the networked image granted the “composition of place” amid changing circumstance, a print contributed “placelessness,” “Ortlosigkeit” as Hans Körner dubbed it, or the disruption sought in the second half of Ignatian prayer.276 The case of the Nagasaki Madonna of the Snow was not exceptional; western printed images abounded in Japan. Frois requested image plates, a press, and a printer, first on December 13, 1584 and then again on January 1, 1587, to address the demand for more pictures, and with the arrival of a press in Japan, Jesuits were the first to circulate copper engravings of images and decorative vignettes in the country.277 The appropriation of multiple printed sources for a single subject was consistent with Aristotle’s understanding of imitation as world-creating, a system that produces meaning aggregatively, comparable to Gilles Deleuze’s (1925–95) notion of “differential becoming.”278 And the mimetic faculty, as a whole or in part, capitalized on location, be it Louis Marin’s (1931–92) “place-making” that paralleled picture-making with a graphic naming especially apt in an age of discovery or Michael Taussig’s anchoring of it to reception in contact zones.279 The lessons in replication from the Society’s technologically derived composite objects present a case of Heidegger’s conditional “en-framing,” where the re-ordering of technē exposed the revelation latent within the worldly, and they recommend a much-needed counter-narrative to the apotheosis of the original.280

Japan provides a telling case of the rise and fall of the fortunes of mimetic reproduction on the high seas, not only because it hosted one of the most prolific and earliest Jesuit presses abroad, but also because it poses a fascinating example of a negative reception.281 The immaculate conception was a popular topic among Franciscans and Jesuits—Paul de Barry (1587–1661) claimed the Virgin told St. Alfonso Rodríguez (1533–1617) that she had created the Society to defend it—so the propagation of this doctrine where these orders’ missionaries were active is to be expected, if the objects on which it is found are less predictable, like this small brass plaque in a zelkova (keyaki) wood frame (fig. 3.14).282 Close looking at its abraded surface reveals the figure of Mary standing on a crescent moon in a radiant aureole, in a posture reminiscent of the Madonna of the Snow, surrounded by a Franciscan cincture, or cord. Printing plates and medallions of Christian subjects had sparked a new genre: fumi-e, low-relief brass plaques made to be stepped on in the performance of apostasy (e-fumi), a ceremony practiced from around 1629 through 1871.283 If the books, prints, and calendars from the Jesuit Press in Japan were largely burned, like the “mountain” of Jesuit publications at Nagasaki on July 23, 1626, its metal plates continued to live on in cynical burlesque, physically and conceptually reframed in the Heideggerian sense, to show how a critical resource for missionaries could be restructured to expel the very people responsible for it.284 When the image veered from devotion to desecration, fumi-e tablets became the matrices for a Christian mission, and its art, that would be formed through adversity and fashioned by pressure (“Societas Iesv persecutionibus formatur. / Typoî te piézon. Fingitque premendo. Virg. 6. Aeneid.”), according to the Imago printing press emblem, whose poem elaborated: “Persecute, if you wish: in this / way a beautiful image is molded” (“Thlîbe dêpou, eikòn / houtôs hôráia prôtypôsetai.”) (fig. 3.11).285 The weaponizing of mimesis seen in the imitation of printing plates to make fumi-e reliefs testifies to some of the less palatable roles this mode of reproduction has played in cultural contact, one that for other times and places Deleuze has equated with seditious dispossession and disguise, Jacques Lacan (1901–81) has compared to the camouflage of warfare, and Homi Bhabha has famously represented as “subversive colonial mimicry.”286 This was not simply the simulated iconoclasm of treading on images; it should also be understood as an expression of the limits of iconographic exchange in cross-cultural contexts.

Figure 3.14
Figure 3.14

European Artist, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Fumi-e, late sixteenth–seventeenth century, brass, zelkova (keyaki) wood frame (inv. no. C711). Tokyo, Tokyo National Museum

Photo: © TNM Image Archives

Yet there was another chapter in the saga of the Christian print abroad, and the Niccolò School, despite being in exile, resisted having their tools of conversion wielded against them. An unusual representation of the Archangel St. Michael, c.1614–38, survives that has been attributed to the Sino-Japanese painter Jacopo Niwa (or Ni Yichen, d.1638) of the Niccolò School, painted after the workshop’s enforced relocation to Macau in 1614, most likely for the Jesuit Church of the College of St. Paul (fig. 3.15A).287 Iconographic convention typically shows St. Michael slaying a dragon, the armored Christian knight about to drive a spike through the head of the malevolent creature squirming below his sandaled foot, as in an engraving by Hieronymus Wierix, St. Michael Triumphing over the Dragon (fig. 3.15B).288 Niwa borrowed the general composition from the Wierix print, but in the transmission from print to painting, St. Michael’s shield was replaced by a luminous crucifix-topped monstrance, whose staff-like golden chain offered support as his boot rests on a gray plaque, which Clement Onn has identified as a fumi-e tablet.289 In a rejoinder to the e-fumi ritual, Niwa appropriated the gesture of abjuration to express Christianity’s own condemnation of such a practice. Inversion was itself subverted, as the fumi-e relief became the “monstrous double” to the devotional print, in René Girard’s (1923–2015) terms, an object betrayed through its likeness, like the quandary of humankind, who must reckon with the engraving’s question of “Who is like God?” (“Qvis sicvt Devs?”) in the high stakes of semblance.290 The painting of The Archangel St. Michael was not alone in its refusal to forswear Christian art; fumi-e plaques were also worshiped at the illicit altars of Hidden Christian homes, valued all the more, from an Ignatian perspective, for being salvaged from a history of desecration that entwined their post-production journey through the world with inquisition, torture, and martyrdom (fig. 3.16). The tools of Christian printmaking had become relics in their own right and could be “baptized” with “San Juan-sama” holy water, wrapped in an ornately brocaded silk robe, and honored with emeritus (“goinkyō-sama”) status.291 In trans-cultural mimetic reproduction, where a machine curtailed the exclusive reign of the hand in picture-making, the print diaspora could be reinterpreted for paintings, recast as the metal plates of repudiation, and repurposed as relics of Christian suffering.

Figure 3.15A
Figure 3.15A

Jacopo Niwa (attributed), The Archangel St. Michael, c.1614–38, oil on panel (inv. no. P13). Macau, Museum of the Ruins of St. Paul (Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt)

Photo: © Diocese of Macau, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Diocesan Office of Historical Archives and Patrimony, Departamento Diocesano de Arquivo Históricos e Património Cultural (DDAHPC)
Figure 3.15B
Figure 3.15B

Hieronymus Wierix, St. Michael Triumphing over the Dragon, before 1619, engraving (call no. EST 8º–Wierix–M.-H. 1263–S.IV 4012). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Prints and Drawings

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique
Figure 3.16
Figure 3.16

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Fumi-e plaques in Japanese Hidden Christian altars, Ikitsuki Island, c.1999

© Misawa photo Library Inc. Photo: Tadashi Nakajyo

The final iteration of the western printed image at the farthest points of the early modern world was a ghostly excerpt from the afterlife of images like Hieronymus Wierix’s Crucifixion with Our Lady and St. John (figs. 3.17A–B).292 The projection of an image, one that recalled the trauma to the Christian devotional image in Japan, preserved the experience of bearing visual witness to suffering in the print’s citation of Lamentations 1:12: “See if there is any sorrow like my sorrow” (“Videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus.”). A mirror cast the de-materialized print onto a wall, as shown here, its subject matter and pictorial antecedents demarcated by only the haziest of outlines. These ethereal devotional images, half-way between object and vision, were the result of what has been called a “magic mirror,” or makyō, a type of object found among Hidden Christian communities in Japan mainly from the second half of the seventeenth century through the nineteenth century, although several families continue to make them today. Mirrors featured prominently in Jesuit circles, since their physical properties were well suited to demonstrate the conceptual ambiguities of mimetic representation. They populate the Imago’s emblems: the “Omnibus omnia” interior of the Societatis operarij scene, where the reflection of the variety of humankind expressed divine love; and Archimedes’s defense of Syracuse in Ignatius è cathedrâ diuini amoris igne concionem inflammat (Ignatius from his chair inflames the sermon with the fire of divine love), where the instrumentation of sacred truth operated much like a makyō’s surface (figs. 2.27, 3.18).293 The latter vignette depicts the unlikely hero in a waterside fortress, who saves his city by simply raising a mirror to convert a beam of light into a laser capable of igniting a marauding ship. Archimedes’s inventive tactics acted as an analogy for the passionate faith of St. Ignatius in the emblem’s title, supplying more tools with which to “go forth and set the world on fire” (“Ite inflammate omnia.”). The technological interventions of press and mirror became the favored material intermediaries between man and God, and the privileged means of broadcasting the tidings of God’s love around the world.

Figure 3.17A
Figure 3.17A

Hieronymus Wierix, Crucifixion with Our Lady and St. John, before 1619, engraving (inv. no. 1859,0709 .3082). London, British Museum

Photo: © The Trustees of the British Museum
Figure 3.17B
Figure 3.17B

Projection cast by Shinji Yamamoto, Makyō Mirror, 1989, bronze. Vatican City, Musei Vaticani, Vatican Ethnological Museum

Photo: © Mia M. Mochizuki
Figure 3.18
Figure 3.18

Andries Pauwels and Cornelis Galle, Ignatius è cathedrâ diuini amoris igne concionem inflammat, in de Bolland and Henskens, eds., Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv, 718, engraving (call no. VB 8.556 C). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

In this mode of disruption, the mechanics of “mirror images” abrogated the most basic assumption of imagery: that it be visible to the naked eye. The makyō appeared to be a normal mirror, with a polished, reflective front and a low-relief pastoral scene, such as a crane among trees, on the reverse (fig. 3.19). Its secret image was invisible for much of the object’s existence; for as long as the devotional projection could not be seen, its owner could not be accused of harboring Christian sympathies during an inspector’s visit. The “magic” lay in the fact that the image was cast and carved in relief, much like a copper plate for an engraving, but now submerged beneath a smooth metal veneer. This hidden facet allowed the makyō to condense the functions of three mirrors in David’s Duodecim specula aliquando videre desideranti concinnata (Twelve mirrors arranged for one wishing now at last to see [Antwerp: Plantin Press under Jan Moretus, 1610]): a mirror as a model (“Specvlvm exemplvm.”); a false mirror (“Specvlvm fallax.”), whose seeming deception actually leads to truth; and most importantly, a “mirror of creatures” (“Specvlvm creatvrarvm.”), which linked mimesis to the world.294 In the Specvlvm creatvrarvm, a couple kneels before a round mirror, whose cosmic vista of the earth is juxtaposed against a heavenly vision of God, as the first three letters (“A,” “B,” and “C”) of the Nadalian key below clarify the contemplation of the invisible through the visible (“Inuisibilium per visibilia / contemplatio.”) (fig. 3.20). It was only through the reflection of divine creation, the world via the lens of Genesis, that humankind could see God indirectly, as attested by the surrounding pictorial anecdotes whose glimpses of the celestial occur during mundane daily activities.295 Likewise, the makyō mirror employed illusion (illudere) that was both elusive (eludere) and allusive (alludere) to the issues of visibility that continued to plague Reformation objects, paving the way for a contemporary art that Niklas Luhmann (1927–98) has characterized by its reliance on a perceptibility that resides in the boundaries of the invisible, incorporating what it excludes as it draws admiration for this sleight of hand.296 The significance of technologies like the mirror for Jesuit picture-making lay in their ability to initiate a Heideggerian notion of “unconcealment”—“Technology is therefore no mere means. Technology is a way of revealing”—and inaugurate a mechanistic view of art that would come to espouse novelty and the incongruous as hallmarks of a modern image.297

Figure 3.19
Figure 3.19

Japanese Artist, Makyō Mirror, Front and Reverse, eighteenth century, bronze. Ōiso, Sawada Miki Memorial Museum

Photo: © Sawada Miki Memorial Museum
Figure 3.20
Figure 3.20

Theodoor Galle, Specvlvm creatvrarvm, in Joannes David, Duodecim specula (Antwerp: Plantin Press under Jan Moretus, 1610), 96, engraving (call no. VB 1.994 1 A RP). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

3.3 The Subjective Image

A third contribution should be ascribed to Jesuit art and that was the exploration of the subjective image. Subjectivity in pictures began with contingency, and nowhere was this quality more evident than in the portraiture of saints- in-the-making during canonization campaigns. Antonio Gallonio (1556–1605), the Oratorian hagiographer and first biographer of St. Filippo Neri (1515–95), pondered how to depict in-process saints in his treatise “How One Should Present Those Who Are Not Canonized” (1596), as Jacopino del Conte (1510–98) would surely have done for his Portrait of St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1556 (fig. 3.21).298 A portrait of St. Ignatius was particularly problematic, since he had famously rejected having his appearance recorded during his lifetime in favor of his behavior in imitatione Christi.299 So there was a valid question whether portraiture was desirable for early Jesuits, and if so, how his likeness could be captured several generations after his death. Ignatius’s pragmatic secretary, Polanco, had the foresight to tackle this omission by instructing in a letter (August 6, 1556) that a death mask of St. Ignatius, today housed in the curia of the Society of Jesus in Rome, be made from his body shortly after his passing on July 31, 1556. The death mask of St. Ignatius was then used as the source for del Conte’s Portrait of St. Ignatius of Loyola, like much of his early portraiture, and it has long been considered the first “true” painting of St. Ignatius where individualized features were transferred from body to mask to portrait. However, the question remained whether to include a halo. Only saints could be portrayed with the attributes of sanctity, so a nimbus or halo could simply be affixed to the picture post-canonization. Yet some artists seem to have anticipated positive outcomes; as late as October 30, 1626, Pope Urban VIII (1568–1644, r.1623–44) would feel compelled to forbid halos for pictures of those who had not yet been officially beatified or canonized.300 Such a decree suggests a canonization date should carry less weight in determining the date of a painting than is often ascribed, and it lends support to the revisionary, and now widely accepted, belief that the need to compile visual evidence of a “cultus publicus” (public cult) prompted more image-making, where saint portraiture largely preceded canonization, rather than vice versa.

Figure 3.21
Figure 3.21

Jacopino del Conte, Portrait of St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1556, oil on canvas. Rome, Casa Generalizia dei Gesuiti

Photo: © Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu

Canonization portraits catalyzed the opportunities contingency presented to pictures, releasing objects from the strictures of intentionality. The two highest profile early canonization procedures of the Society of Jesus were those of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the prime initiator of the Society of Jesus, and St. Francis Xavier, the preeminent missionary of the order, who would be canonized together on March 12, 1622 by Pope Gregory XV (1554–1623, r.1621–23).301 But they were by no means straightforward. Even before St. Ignatius’s formal canonization candidacy had begun, it took three decades, from the start of the reign of Pope Sixtus V (1521–90, r.1585–90) to the death of Pope Clement VIII (1536–1605, r.1592–1605), just to open proceedings.302 Representatives of empire-aspiring nations then placed their fingers on the scales at critical junctures; members of other religious orders sought the canonization of their founders, like St. Filippo Neri of the Oratorians (approved) and Cardinal Gian Pietro Carafa (Pope Paul IV, 1476–1559, r.1555–59) of the Theatines (rejected); and brother Jesuits debated how broadly the duties of the superior general should be construed. The Roman Catholic Church itself was just emerging from what Peter Burke has deemed a “crisis of canonization,” a sixty-five-year hiatus in canonizations (1523–88) that had only resumed with the formation of the Sacred Congregation of Rites and Ceremonies by Pope Sixtus V (January 22, 1588).303 With a thorough grounding in the kairos moment of personal choice from the Spiritual Exercises, Jesuits were well positioned to confront the lengthy periods of uncertainty that were ingrained in the process of portraying new (modern) saints, or “beati moderni.”304 After the complications of conveying authenticity in networked images, and the limits of mimesis foregrounded in the technologically produced object, the subjective picture finally acknowledged the role of “chance images” in a society marked by the seismic shifts of Reformation and sustained overseas global encounter that would become a laboratory for many of the issues that would come to define modernity.

The ultimate contingency in Christianity was the crucifixion, and in a counterfactual exercise, the historian of early modern religion Carlos Eire has opined that there would have been no Christianity without the crucifixion, an idea expressed by the Apostle Paul as “no cross, no salvation,” and by Karl Rahner as “the cross of the Lord is and remains the fork in the world of human history.”305 Post-Tridentine scholars recognized that a miasma of indecision hung over the cross: all the Gospel accounts suggested that Jesus could have been set free, and Pontius Pilate himself wanted to do so, if the crowds had not bayed for blood. The philosophy of probabilism, which Jesuits like Francisco de Toledo (1532–96), Gregorio de Valencia (c.1549–1603), Francisco Suárez (1548–1617), and Gabriel Vázquez (c.1549–1604) helped frame, furnished a theology of contingency that could lay accusations of moral sophistry to rest by mining the aporiae of the cross.306 It was this conditional aspect of crucifixion that would be cultivated in images during an age of anxiety, like an anonymous copy made after a Hieronymus Wierix print (fecit), from a de Vos design (invenit), of a Portrait of St. Ignatius with a Crucifix (fig. 3.22).307 The staging of St. Ignatius before a raised crucifix evokes verse 53 of the Spiritual Exercises, the culmination of the first week, when the exercitant visualized Christ on the cross as dialogue partner:

Colloquy. Imagine Christ our Lord suspended on the cross before you, and converse with him in a colloquy: How is it that he, although he is the Creator, has come to make himself into a human being? How is that he has passed from eternal life to death here in time, and to die in this way for my sins?

In a similar way, reflect on yourself and ask: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I to do for Christ?

In this way, too, gazing on him in so pitiful a state as he hangs on the cross, speak out whatever comes to your mind.308

Figure 3.22
Figure 3.22

Anonymous (after a Hieronymus Wierix print of a Maerten de Vos design), Portrait of St. Ignatius with a Crucifix, before 1619, engraving. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, Rijksprentenkabinet

Photo: © Rijksmuseum

The skull, usually seen at the foot of the cross as a reference to where Adam lay buried and from whence God will come to redeem humankind, was replaced by the biretta of Jesuit commitment to a reformed world above the rhetorical question: “Lord, what could I desire beyond you?” (“Domine qvid volo extra te?”).309 Likewise, Nadal would state: “The [Roman Catholic] Church receives its meaning from the cross of Christ. So also the Society,” and more emphatically, “It comes to this: the living of our vocation is in the carrying of the cross. If we fail here, we are quitting the road that leads to the purpose of our vocation.”310 Crucifixion played a decisive role throughout the Spiritual Exercises, and Hugo Rahner has condensed the objective of the Exercises into the remodeling of the self on the “crucified Christ.”311 The cross was the tie between the Spiritual Exercises and the systemization of chance in a narrative that revolved around decisions, the exercitant’s Election and Christ’s resolve to bear the weight of the cross despite the repercussions of disgrace and death.312

While the importance of the crucifixion for Jesuits has been recognized, what has yet to be considered is how Ignatius turned the cross into a hermeneutic tool of interactive technology for the visible, thereby crafting what might be termed a “crucifixion economy” for picture-making. It was no accident that the second image hung on the printing press of the Imago’s printer-priest was a Crucifixion; the picture was set frontally to catch the viewer’s eye, the present into future to the Madonna’s past tense (fig. 3.11). Chance opened a mystical space in painting, the place where through the mobilizing of the accidental, the past was “inspirited” with the power of the possible and something more profound was achieved than initially could have been envisioned. The efficacy of the arbitrary lay in its capacity for change, akin to how Aristotle understood the nous as raw aptitude in passage to actuality, that “has no other nature than that of being potential, and before thinking, it is absolutely nothing.”313 One of Bolswert’s images for Sucquet’s Via vitae aeternae—Inspice, & imitare virtutis N. exemplar, quod tibi à Domino monstratum est (Look and imitate the example of virtue that has been displayed for you by Our Lord)—explicitly extended the logic of crucifixion to the creation of imagery in his adaption of Nadal’s pictorial formula (fig. 3.23).314 Christ carrying the cross provides the model for the angel-assisted painter in the foreground as Jesus invites others to follow him up the hill (“Venite post me.”) to the crucified Christ at the peak; there, the imperative “Look and make a second example [after this]” (“Inspice et fac secun / dum exemplar.”) echoes Ignatius’s call for portraiture through the imitation of the conduct of Christ.

Figure 3.23
Figure 3.23

Boetius Bolswert, Inspice, & imitare virtutis N. exemplar, quod tibi à Domino monstratum est, in Antoine Sucquet, Via vitae aeternae (vol. 1: Antwerp: Martin III Nuyts, 1620, vol. 2: Antwerp: Hendrick Aertssens, 1625), 1:after 452, engraving (call no. VB 1.999 A RP). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Rare Books

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

The crucifixion bestowed an alternate pictorial economy built on the promise of rupture, analogous to de Certeau’s emphasis on the generative purpose of the interstitial break in the Spiritual Exercises that would play out in Nadal’s Evangelicae.315 Georges Didi-Huberman has advocated understanding the image as rend—the “déchirure,” incision, or displacement to offset the detail’s certainty—as a break with the logos-centered, iconological methodology of the image as text.316 Meditation facilitated access to crucifixion, with the benefit of re-enacting schism in the viewer’s time and space, as described by Simone Weil (1909–43): “The function of meditation in itself implies a tearing asunder […] we cannot conceive of the descent of God towards men or the ascent of men towards God without a tearing asunder.”317 The portrait had become an assemblage of appearing and disappearing acts, an “eclipse” or transience, a disquiet.318 The upshot was that modern western painting, heavily influenced by Christian views of the human figure, only began when humankind no longer experienced him- or herself as a stable, unchanging entity, but rather as a consequence of fateful decisions, be it the fall of man or the no less resonant failures of daily life.

For Jesuits, conformity with the cross entailed a celebration of the world as the key to understanding the self, as seen in the Spiritual Exercises, so images of the “Apostle of the Indies” from outside Europe, like the early seventeenth-century Portrait of St. Francis Xavier, now in the Kobe City Museum, enhance an understanding of how subjectivity was structured pictorially in three important respects (fig. 3.24).319 In this painting, St. Francis Xavier is presented in a bust-length portrait, head ringed with a halo and hands crossed at his heart, as a crucifix with an enflamed heart breaks through the clouds, bisecting an “IHS” monogram, below the words “Satis est Domine satis est.” (It is enough, Lord, it is enough). First, an often unrecognized aspect of Xavier’s contingent canonization process was that it was one of the earliest to arise from extra-European devotion: the feudal lord (daimyō) of Bungo province in eastern Kyushu (part of modern-day Ōita Prefecture), Ōtomo Sōrin (or Ōtomo Yoshishige, 1530–87), had been baptized in 1578 with the baptismal name of Francisco in honor of Xavier, whom he had known as a child.320 He sent a letter requesting Xavier’s beatification to Pope Gregory XIII (1502–85, r.1572–85), which was carried by the four young envoys of the first Japanese delegation to Europe, the Tenshō embassy (1582–90). To support the request, Valignano, who served as the group’s initial chaperone, commissioned an “authentic portrait,” or vera effigie, of Xavier from his remains in Goa.321 In turn, two versions of Xavier’s vera effigie were painted, one of which was sent to Rome while the other remained in Goa, maintaining a pictorial hub outside of Europe.322 They would become the ground zero for the earliest depictions of Xavier around the world, showing how limited conventional center–periphery paradigms can be for this material. The universal arena of a pictorial crucifixion economy ensured the early modern Catholic self was no longer cast as simply a postlapsarian sinner; in the expansion of post-Tridentine religious portraiture to the global stage, the represented person could acquire the agency of subjecthood through the role of chance in artistic production.323

Figure 3.24
Figure 3.24

Niccolò School, Portrait of St. Francis Xavier, early seventeenth century, Japanese colors and ink on paper. Kobe, Kobe City Museum

Photo: © Kobe City Museum

Second, the construction of the Kobe Portrait of St. Francis Xavier reveals how partisanship could be subtly intimated in pictures. It is known that at least one copy of the Italian Jesuit Orazio Torsellino’s (or Horatius Torsellinus, 1545–99) De vita Francisci Xaverii (On the life of Francis Xavier [Rome: Luigi Zanetti, 1596]) was in Japan, if not which edition.324 However, the printed Frontispiece Portrait of St. Francis Xavier by Theodoor Galle for the first illustrated edition of Torsellino’s Vita, with hands grasping the cloth of his tunic on his chest, familiar to many as the first mass-produced image of Xavier and the oldest preserved version of his portrait, was not the source for the Kobe painting (fig. 3.25). Its main model was probably a single-leaf Portrait of St. Francis Xavier with Hands Crossed by Hieronymus Wierix: it shares the same “butterfly” gesture of hands crossed at the wrists and “Satis est” inscription issuing from his mouth (fig. 3.26).325 This version derived from the Frontispiece Portrait of St. Francis Xavier for the second edition of Torsellino’s De vita Francisci Xaverii (Antwerp: Joachim Trogney, 1596), also by Wierix, that featured the saint in a central oval with four smaller scenes from Xavier’s life in the corners. Its attributes referenced a demonstration of Xavier’s “heroic virtue” in the garden of the Jesuit College of St. Paul in Goa in 1552, which also explains the insertion of the impassioned heart in the Kobe picture. In a much-repeated anecdote, Xavier’s heart burned so intensely while praying that he had to open his cassock, uttering the famous line, “It is enough, Lord, it is enough,” as if in Ignatian-inspired rebuttal to the story of Doubting Thomas, who needed to touch Christ’s wounds to believe.326 Hans-Georg Gadamer’s (1900–2002) “occasionality” thesis sheds light on the portraiture of new saints, where content and interpretation were determined “by the occasion for which they are intended, so that they contain more than they would without this occasion.”327 As the twentieth-century artist Francis Bacon (1909–92) has noted, the representation of the crucified Christ needed to convey the specificity of someone who has been “forced by circumstances into a unique situation.”328 The focus had shifted from the creation of an object and the defining achievements of the saint’s life to the independent encounter with the viewer, where a portrait could exploit the provisional quality of the crucifixion to place canonization in the balance before the audience’s eyes.

Figure 3.25
Figure 3.25

Theodoor Galle, Frontispiece Portrait of St. Francis Xavier, in Orazio Tursellino, De vita Francisci Xaverii (Rome: Luigi Zanetti, 1596), engraving (call no. *e: 4o/244, no. 1). Mainz, Bibliotheken der Stadt Mainz, Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek

Photo: © Landeshauptstadt Mainz, Amt für Kultur und Bibliotheken–Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek
Figure 3.26
Figure 3.26

Hieronymus Wierix, Portrait of St. Francis Xavier with Hands Crossed, c.1596–1619, engraving (call no. EST 8º–Wierix–M.-H. 1810–S.IV 21993). Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Prints and Drawings

Photo: © Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

Third, the enflamed heart in the Kobe Portrait of St. Francis Xavier pinpoints how reference to an event could recreate the subjectivity of circumstance, and in Xavier’s case, this act was the miracle of the crab. During a formidable storm on the crossing from Ambon Island to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia, legend has it that Xavier threw his personal cross into the turbulent waves, asking God to use it as an instrument for peace. Suddenly the waters stilled, and when Xavier arrived on the beach of Seram Island, he was greeted by a crab bringing his cross back to him, the moment depicted by André Reinoso (fl.1610–41) in his St. Francis Xavier and the Crab Miracle at Seram Island, the thirteenth of twenty scenes from the life of Xavier commissioned for the sacristy of São Roque Church in Lisbon in 1619 (fig. 3.27).329 The miracle of the crab was not only thoroughly recounted by the Portuguese soldier Fausto Rodrigues (d.1617) at the witness hearings for Xavier’s canonization in Cebu in 1608 and 1613, it was also mentioned in the second Lisbon process in 1616 and in the official papal canonization bull (1623).330 The great Xavier scholar Georg Schurhammer, S.J. (1882–1971) argued that the story of the crab introduced devotion to the crucifix in Japan and was probably an appropriation of a local myth, the miracle itself a response to chance cultural exchange en route.331 So crucifixes of Xavier often included a crab at its base, as in a silver Cross with Crab in Coimbra (fig. 3.28). The type suggests how the crucifix in the Kobe Portrait of St. Francis Xavier had come to be attached to a heart: its stylized flames performed double duty as both fiery organ and miraculous crab in a pictorial shorthand for the two distinguishing features of his canonization campaign.332 This conflation follows Deleuze’s observation in twentieth-century painting that the promotion of doubt meant form became detached from essence, the cardinal point of a crucifixion economy, and instead became tethered to the incident, the changeable, in sum, the contingent, where “Christ is besieged, and even replaced, by accidents.”333 With a heart–crab motif, the Kobe portrait of this new saint could flicker back and forth between the temporally distinct occasions of canonization and miraculous act, between the status of sanctified and candidate, in a way that tactfully championed subjectivity through the cult of the face.334

Figure 3.27
Figure 3.27

André Reinoso, St. Francis Xavier and the Crab Miracle at Seram Island, c.1619, oil on canvas (inv. no. 104 JM). Lisbon, Museu de São Roque, Church of São Roque, Sacristy

© Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa. Photo: Júlio Marques
Figure 3.28
Figure 3.28

Portuguese Artist, Cross with Crab, seventeenth century, silver (inv. no. 6210; O129). Coimbra, Museu Nacional Machado de Castro

© Direção-Geral do Património Cultural/Arquivo de Document ação Fotográfica (DGPC/ADF). Photo: Manuel Palma

The face—whose “one hundred square centimeters of the most meaningful and mutable surface on earth” Gottfried Boehm has regarded as the seat of both intimacy and inscrutability—became the embodiment of the subjective image.335 Another printed Portrait of St. Ignatius with a Crucifix by Hieronymus Wierix, now in a close-up view, aligns with Karl Rahner’s observation that the desire to communicate with God “face-to-face,” in the personhood accented in Nadal’s Evangelicae, was fulfilled by the crucifixion (fig. 3.29).336 De Certeau has noted how the Spiritual Exercises in general, and the crucifixion in particular, was a narrative of mystery rooted in alterity, one that, due to the Society’s commitment to global mission, would come to absorb the faces of other human beings into its equation.337 The dissemination of this print in the saint’s canonization campaign gave rise to pictures such as a Portrait of Hasekura Tsunenaga with a Crucifix, c.1615, a rare depiction of a non-European Christian in imitatione Ignatii (fig. 3.30).338 Now, however, conversion was emphasized over canonization, Tsunenaga portrayed in three-quarter pose with a sword, over cross or biretta, while the crucifix is obscured in profile. The inscription of its source print cited Ignatius’s “conversion” when he became a Jesuit, in the spirit of the “all for all” (“Omnibus omnia”) motto of the Imago’s Societatis operarij emblem: “Everything is done for everyone so that all may benefit. Died in the year of the Lord [15]56 at the age of sixty-five. Converted [at the age of] thirty-five” (“Omnibus omnia factus est vt omnes lucrifaceret. / Obijt Anno Domini 56. AEtatis 65. Conversus 35.”). The “ex-position” of the subject, from the vantage point of crucifixion and a Christian outside Europe, encouraged the viewer to “stand outside him- or herself” and adopt the “exo-,” or “outside,” as a starting place for interpretation. It was a “way of seeing” congruent with “the ability to conceive otherwise” advocated by the French naval doctor and ethnographer Victor Segalen (1878–1919), himself educated at Jesuit schools.339 Crucifixion-indebted exoticism was a by-product of the post-Tridentine universal Roman Catholic Church, and the crucified other can provide an early modern correction to romantic and colonial definitions of the word and a still trenchant defense of humanism today. For Jesuits, the portrait was not only the instantiation of incarnation theology; through overseas experience, they recognized this genre could also metabolize the crucifixion’s effect on the individual, to invest imagery with an uncanny “consciousness” born of sacrifice, self, and subjectivity.340 The crucifixion economy had reoriented the picture to the internal realities of its personae, where Karl Rahner’s description of choice in the Spiritual Exercises—“the actual subjectivity of the subject becomes the theme of the subject’s focus, instead of being merely the mode through which the subject realizes itself”—reads much like what would become one of the tenets of modern painting.341

Figure 3.29
Figure 3.29

Hieronymus Wierix, Portrait of St. Ignatius with a Crucifix, before 1619, engraving (inv. no. 2006, U. 559). London, British Museum

Photo: © The Trustees of the British Museum
Figure 3.30
Figure 3.30

Niccolò School, Portrait of Hasekura Tsunenaga with a Crucifix, c.1615, oil on canvas. UNESCO Memory of the World Register, National Treasures of Japan Collection, “Materials Related to the Keichō Mission to Europe.” Sendai, Sendai City Museum

Photo: © Sendai City Museum

Part 4: In Place of a Conclusion

4.1 What If There Was No Jesuit Art?

A last selection brings the discussion full circle to the Gesù in Rome, if this time to the private rooms of St. Ignatius of Loyola in the International College. A memorial portrait, St. Ignatius in His Study, c.1609, by Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652), suggests that the best way to recover the thought of Ignatius, and by extension the historical Society of Jesus, may be through books (fig. 4.1). The scholarly Ignatius is pictured writing at his desk, pausing to look up at the viewer after completing a page of a manuscript: “Societas Iesu” beneath the heading “A.M.D.G.,” the abbreviation for “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam,” his appeal for all efforts to serve the greater glory of God. This is a portrait that prompts biography, historiography, and perhaps hagiography. To date, the study of the early modern Society of Jesus has been dominated by a textual perspective, and it is true, Ignatius’s biretta sits atop a stack of books, if it is less frequently noticed that his hat is placed at the foot of a crucifix, akin to its position in the Wierix engravings at the end of the last chapter (figs. 3.22, 3.29). The presence of a crucifix in St. Ignatius of Loyola in His Study reminds us, however, that there were always at least two threads to Ignatius’s legacy, the verbal and the visual. Records of early Jesuits, across a miscellany of documents—letters, institutional papers, spiritual diaries, and indipetae or requests for missionary service—consistently cite the presence of images, from everyday decoration to the pervasive use of imagery, both actual and imagined, as an impetus to prayer and missionary exhortation. Indeed, it is an artistic heritage that the twenty-eighth superior general, Pedro Arrupe (1907–91, in office 1965–83), encouraged Jesuits to reclaim after nineteenth- and twentieth-century ambivalence had caused it to be viewed with a degree of circumspection even within the Society.342

Figure 4.1
Figure 4.1

Jusepe de Ribera, St. Ignatius in His Study, c.1609, oil on canvas. Rome, Collegio Internazionale del Gesù, Rooms of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Photo: © Foto Vasari Roma/Alessandro Vasari (inv. no. ALV7035–2)

For every St. Ignatius of Loyola in His Study, there was a St. Francis Xavier Directing the Construction of a Building, by Luca Giordano (1634–1705), that commemorated the passionate energies and excitement of the process of art-making, and together, these two paintings exemplify two halves of a single critical tradition (fig. 4.2). The hands of Xavier—one arm outstretched, the other lifted in an emphatic beckoning gesture—draw the attention of both the kneeling figure in the lower-left corner and the extra-pictorial viewer to the site of creative work. The light of the Holy Spirit cascades down to illuminate the stages of production, from the heated gesticulations and intense concentration of the men in the right foreground, who debate the pros and cons of a visionary design, to the heavy labor required to bring such plans to fruition behind them. And although the location of the scene is left only vaguely articulated, a plausible reference to the Jesuit Church and College of St. Paul in Goa, it is noteworthy that it is Xavier, the Society’s missionary par excellence, who drives the model primarily from outside the center of picture and discourse. Today, this scene acts as a vehement reminder to scholars not to overlook the remnants of a magnificent inheritance, one whose monumental stone ruins have often survived less well than the unassuming slips of paper that have enjoyed the benefit of consistent underestimation. So although it may seem surprising to state, in light of the explosion of the bibliography on Jesuit art in recent decades, compared to the writings of the Society of Jesus, many objects and topics in early modern Jesuit visual culture have yet to receive the critical analysis they richly warrant.

Figure 4.2
Figure 4.2

Luca Giordano, St. Francis Xavier Directing the Construction of a Building, late seventeenth century, oil on canvas (inv. no. 860.1.577). Ville d’Aix-en-Provence, Musée Granet

© Musée Granet. Photo: Bernard Terlay

But what if Giordano’s portrayal of Xavier’s efforts to build a Jesuit art were stymied, if there had been no Jesuit art bequeathed to posterity? Like a Christianity without crucifixion, the question applies the principles of fictional absence to underscore decisive turning points in history, an apt “non-ending” for a volume meant to support original research, where a conclusion would be premature and possibly antithetical to its objective. The answer, a narrative without Jesuit art, would lead almost certainly to a considerable diminishment of the Society’s corpus of non-verbal expression, and arguably, to a loss of the order’s internal identification and external recognition. For art history, the baroque would have remained under-conceptualized, perhaps associated with different elements from what are identified with it now, if the category came to exist at all. Most dramatically, there would have been no coherent early modern global artistic creation, just sporadic and circumscribed appearances with a large-scale infrastructure only emerging later, one that would have adhered to the code of other institutions, like the Protestant-inflected mercantile humanism propagated by the Dutch East and West India Companies during the seventeenth century. That the Society of Jesus was able to inaugurate a comprehensive working apparatus over a half-century earlier relied on the serendipitous intersection of unique historical conditions: a post-Reformation religious order with a deep-seated commitment to the arts and a vocation to world running headlong into the technological means with which to achieve it. Without the Jesuit investment in art around the globe, western visual culture, indispensable when non-linguistic engagement was at a premium, would have been introduced to societies in different circumstances and with other effects.

My own interest in a continuum of Jesuit art touches on its style and iconography, but only in passing; the primary concern of this book has focused on how it functions. By this I mean not simply didactically and catechetically, approaches that have mainly emulated textual inquiry, but rather how Jesuit art performs both as objects and in a history of art leavened by an early Ignatian spirituality. Three books with innovative uses of imagery—the Spiritual Exercises, the Evangelicae historiae imagines, and the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesv—provide insight into the operational principles that Jesuit art would reap. They act as an appeal for a canon that does not favor one medium over another or let an aspect of the tradition serve as a metonymy for the whole. This book therefore concludes, first, with the observation that the print production of the Society of Jesus, a topic largely treated by historians of Northern European art, should be considered a requisite supplement to the classic historiography of Italian architectural history for the formation of a Jesuit art.

The prominence of prints was due in great part to the worldwide forum in which the Society conducted its activities. Consequently, and second, this study demonstrates the paramount importance of the global aspects of Jesuit art in the order’s cultural contribution, apparent in the stylistic and iconographic manifestations of exploration certainly, but especially palpable in the ways Jesuit imagery constructed meaning within the picture plane through the lens of place. Locus and imago were essential, and inseparable, components of Jesuit self-formation. The incorporation of the world into Jesuit art on a structural level was how it connected to the Society’s endeavors at large. Jesuits did not simply expand the arena of their ministries geographically when they set up overseas outposts; the post-Tridentine dream of a universal Roman Catholic Church was integral to an Ignatian charism. O’Malley has reminded scholars that the global missions were a cornerstone not only for the history and logistics of the Society, but also for its spirituality: “Any study of early Jesuit spirituality that ignores the enterprises and cultural magnanimity of missioners like these [i.e., Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) in China or Roberto de Nobili (1577–1656) in India] misses a central element of the tradition.”343

The effect of this global initiative was an art whose significance extended beyond any one order or particular religion. Thus this account closes, third, with the assertion that Jesuit art matters to art history because the world’s first systemic global art production constituted a strategic juncture in the history of representation. Just as Jesuit art formed many a young novice, it shaped modern art in its own image, as assiduously networked, technologically curious, and preternaturally subjective. Its genius lay in its ability to act as a mirror in the “Omnibus omnia” sense of the Imago’s Societatis operarij emblem: despite the centuries past and oceans crossed, a global Jesuit art is one of the earliest cases where we have the ability to see something reflected that begins to approach the many faces of ourselves (fig. 2.27). For ultimately, Jesuit art retains its relevance, as timely for the sixteenth as the twenty-first century, because it was a call to explicitly acknowledge a worldview, where to look outward, taking this generation’s désenclavement, or opening, of the field to heart methodologically and geographically, was to look forward.

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