Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Also from Cambridge University Press: A New Book on the Counter-Reformation

While searching for Andy Wood's forthcoming book, The Memory of the People on the Cambridge University Press website, I found this intriguing study, The Sensuous in the Counter-Reformation Church (Cambridge University Press; Not yet published - available from July 2013), edited by: Marcia B. Hall and Tracy E. Cooper, both of Temple University, Philadelphia:

This book examines the promotion of the sensuous as part of religious experience in the Roman Catholic Church of the early modern period. During the Counter-Reformation, every aspect of religious and devotional practice was reviewed, including the role of art and architecture, and the invocation of the five senses to incite devotion became a hotly contested topic. The Protestants condemned the material cult of veneration of relics and images, rejecting the importance of emotion and the senses and instead promoting the power of reason in receiving the Word of God. After much debate, the Church concluded that the senses are necessary to appreciate the sublime, and that they derive from the Holy Spirit. As part of its attempt to win back the faithful, the Church embraced the sensuous and promoted the use of images, relics, liturgy, processions, music, and theater as important parts of religious experience.

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction; Marcia B. Hall
2. The sensuous: recent research; Tracy E. Cooper
3. Trent, sacred images, and Catholics' senses of the sensuous; John W. O'Malley
4. The world made flesh: spiritual subjects and carnal depictions in Renaissance art; Bette Talvacchia
5. How words control images: the rhetoric of decorum in Counter-Reformation Italy; Robert Gaston
6. Custodia degli occhi: discipline and desire in post-Tridentine Italian art; Maria Loh
7. Raffaelle Borghini and the corpus of Florentine art in an age of reform; Stuart Lingo
8. Censure and censorship in Rome ca.1600: visitation of Clement VIII and the visual arts; Opher Mansour
9. Painting virtuously: the Counter-Reform and the reform of artists' education in Rome between guild and academy; Peter Lukehart
10. Carlo Borromeo and the dangers of lay women in church; Richard Scofield
11. 'To be in heaven': Saint Filippo Neri between aesthetic emotion and mystical ecstasy; Costanza Barbieri
12. Rebuilding faith through art: Christoph Schwarz's altarpiece for the new Jesuit school in Munich Jeffrey Chipps Smith
13. 'Until shadows disperse': Augustine's twilight; Meredith Gill
14. A machine for souls: allegory before and after Trent; Amy Powell.

Some of the titles of the essays reminded me of Sir Kenneth Clark's assessment of Catholic Counter-Reformation efforts, especially in art and architecture, as they asserted Catholic teaching and thought about the Blessed Virgin Mary, the saints, the Sacraments, and other controversies--"the Church gave imaginative expression to deep-seated human impulses. And it had another great strength which one may say was part of Mediterranean civilisation--or at any rate a legacy from the pagan Renaissance: it was not afraid of the human body. . . . [Speaking of Titian, Rubens, and  Bernini] In their work the conflict between flesh and spirit is gloriously resolved." (pages 178 to 182, Chapter 7, Grandeur and Obedience, Civilisation: A Personal View).

Clark uses Peter Paul Ruben's painting, "Sinners Saved by Penitence", as an example--and this site features the illustrated script of the episode--noting, "And in Rubens's picture of that extremely un-Protestant subject "Sinners saved by Penitence", he has achieved in the repentant Magdalene, and even in the figure of Christ himself, a noble sensuality, perfectly at one with an unquestioning faith." (page 182). Father John O'Malley's essay and Bette Talvacchia's particularly seem to address Clark's analysis.

Because of my interest in the Counter-Reformation, I might have to queue this book up on my wish list!

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