New York: Fordham University Press, 1972. First edition. Quarto (11 inches tall), original navy cloth, gilt spine and blind-stamped front board, blue endpapers, original dust jacket. Bookplate. Book fine, bright unclipped dust jacket with touch of wear to spine ends and corners, short closed tear to blank upper rear panel. Item #1083
"THE IDEA, OFTEN HELD, THAT THE SOCIETY WAS A SOLID, ROCKLIKE ORGANIZATION WITH ONE MIND AND ONE SOUL, IS QUITE MISTAKEN" (RUDOLF WITTKOWER)
First edition of this illustrated study of the extraordinary contributions made by the Society of Jesus to the Arts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
This book edition, collecting papers delivered at an April 1969 symposium held at Fordham University, is dedicated by one editor to the other: "Rudolf Wittkower / 22 June 1901 - 11 October 1971." An influential art historian at nearby Columbia University, Wittkower was a "seminal figure for the generation of art historians who matured during the second half of the 20th century" (Dictionary of Art Historians). With a short Preface ("Irma B. Jaffe / Fordham University / 1971") introducing the papers and mentioning some of the misconceptions about the Jesuits. Jaffe admits to wondering what Baroque Art had to do with "the Church Militant, martyred missionaries, and tortured argumentation, which was as much of the 'common knowledge' about the Society of Jesus as had come my way." She credits Wittkower as the first to conceive a "Jesuit strategy" on art and design that would influence every facet of sixteenth-century architecture, sculpture, painting, and craftmanship. The text consists of seven chapters: 1. Problem of the Theme (Rudolf Wittkower), 2. The Gesù in the Light of Contemporary Church Design (James S. Ackerman), 3. Ut picturae sermones: The First Painted Decorations of the Gesù, 4. The Role of Patrons, 5. Hermetism and Mystical Architecture, 6. Baroque Theater and the Jesuits, 7. The German College in Rome: A Center for Baroque Music. The papers are supplemented with an illustrated 65-page appendix, collecting dozens of splendid black-and-white plates gathered at the rear, with a special focus on Rome and the Jesuit Church of the Gesù ("A fountainhead of Baroque Architecture"). Sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. An excellent copy.