Polska Akademia Umieje̜tności <Krakau> / Komisja Historii Sztuki [Editor]; Polska Akademia Nauk <Warschau> / Oddział <Krakau> / Komisja Teorii i Historii Sztuki [Editor]
Folia Historiae Artium — NS: 15.2017

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Folia Historiae Artium
Seria Nowa, t. 15: 2017/PL ISSN 0071-6723

Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Instytut Historii Sztuki


The decree on the cult of images promulgated by the
Council of Trent on 3 December 1563, which assigned to
the clergy a particular responsibility for ensuring ‘that
there [in the church decoration] be nothing seen that
is disorderly, or that is unbecomingly or confusedly ar-
ranged, nothing that is profane, nothing indecorous, see-
ing that holiness becometh the house of God’1, was for
a long time believed - mainly under the influence of the
study of Émile Mâle2 - to be the turning point in the peri-
odization of the history of religious art of the early mod-
ern period.
Yet, the conventional character of this date was noted
already long ago by researchers who, on the one hand, re-
alised that a vigorous discussion on the role of art in the
Roman Catholic Church and its principles had started as
early as in the 1520s3, and, on the other hand, declared that

1 ‘nihil inordinatum, aut praepostere et tumultuarie acccommoda-
tum, nihil profanum nihilque inhonestum appareat, cum domum
Dei deceat sanctitudo’, see The Canons and Decrees of the Sacred
and Oecumenical Council of Trent, trans, by J. Waterworth, Lon-
don, 1848 (available at: <http://www.bible-researcher.com/trenti.
html> [accessed on 20 Oct. 2017]).
2 E. Mâle, L’Art religieux de la fin du XVIe siècle, du XVIIe siècle et
du XVIIT siècle: étude sur l’iconographie après le Concile de Trente.
Italie, France, Espagne, Flandres, Paris, 1932.
3 See especially: G. Soavizzi, Arte e architettura sacra. Crona-
che e documenti sulla controversia tra riformati e cattolici (1500-
-1550), Rome, 1982, pp. 130-273; C. Metzger, ‘Die Reue nach
dem Sturm. Rekatolisierung durch Rekonstruktion, in Kunst und
Konfession. Katholische Auftragswerke im Zeitalter der Glaubens-
spaltung 1517-1563, ed. by A. Tacke, Regensburg, 2008, pp. 267-
294; A. Nagel, Architecture as Image’, in idem, The Controversy
of Renaissance Art, Toronto, 2011, pp. 197-220.

in order that the, rather general, directives of the Coun-
cil of Trent could be put into practice on a large scale,
they would require a detailed elaboration in writings on
art theory and in instructions issued by the Church hier-
archs; additionally, model examples of their implemen-
tation in specific artistic undertakings would have been
needed.4 The greatest credit in this regard has been given
to Cardinal Charles Borromeo (1538-1584; Fig. 1) who,
immediately after the council had ended, with zeal set
about to implementing its promulgations in the Archdio-
cese of Milan he was in charge of, thus fashioning himself
consciously and very consistently as the paragon of put-
ting the Tridentine reforms into practice within the lo-
cal Church. He enthusiastically reformed Church law by
organising metropolitan and diocesan synods; he had put
in order and consolidated the way that liturgy was cel-
ebrated; finally, he instituted numerous perfectly organ-
ised priestly seminaries and regularly carried out canoni-
cal visitations.5 He set much store by shaping sacred art

4 See in particular A.W.A. Boschloo, Annibale Caracci in Bologna.
Visibile Reality in Art after the Council of Trent, voi. 1, Den Haag,
1974, P- 44; S. Kummer, ‘”Doceant Episcopi”. Auswirkungen des
Trenter Bilderdekrets im römischen Kirchenraum’, Zeitschrift
für Kunstgeschichte, 56, 1993, no. 4, pp. 508-533; J.W. O’Malley,
‘Trent, Sacred Images and the Catholics’ Senses of the Sensuous’,
in The Sensuous in the Counter-Reformation Church, ed. by M.B.
Hall, E. Cooper, Cambridge, 2013, pp. 28-48.
5 H. Jedin, Il tipo ideale di vescovo secondo la riforma cattolica,
trans, by E. Durini, Brescia, 1959, pp. 92-103; R. Mols, ‘Saint
Charles Borromée pionier de la pastorale moderne’, Nouvelle Re-
vue Théologique, 79, 1957, no. 8, pp. 600-622, no. 9, pp. 715-747;
R. Chiacchella, Tl tipo ideale di vescovo e l’applicazione del
modello nelle chiese locali. Carlo Borromeo e la sua influenza

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