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Lecture 9

ART HIS 40B Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Anthony Blunt, Externals, Giorgio Vasari

Art History
Course Code
Lyle Massey

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Study Questions
Anthony Blunt “The Council of Trent and Religious Art”
Terms from this article: Mannerism, decorum, Last Judgment, nude
1. What were the Council of Trent’s directives on the form and use of religious art?
a. The forms of Mannerism compared with the art of the High Renaissance and they were
all produced against the common background of the political and religious reaction which
the alliance of the Papacy with Spain made possible after 1530. One of the first objectives
of the Counter-Reformers was to abolish the right of the individual to settle all problems
of thought or conscience according to the judgement of his own personal reason. They
wanted to set up the acceptance of authority (Inquisition and Society of Jesus). Later on
in the middle of 16th century, the Church decided to see that all religious paintings were
strictly orthodox and the Council of Trent ended up tightening up the doctrine and
discipline. It was not enough for artists to avoid incorporating established heresies into
paintings. The painter has to concentrate his attention on depicting the story in the
clearest and most accurate manner possible. All of Council of Trent’s decrees emphasize
the need for accuracy in the representation of religious subjects. They established the
difference between idolatry and the proper veneration of images. One has to purify both
iconography and the customs of the faithful. They wanted art in its traditional form,
without individual initiative, respecting classical decorum as well as modern decency.
2. What were Gilio da Fabrianos criticisms of Michelangelos Last Judgment
a. His criticisms go farther towards the ludicrous than Borghinis, for he was a priest and a
professional theologian and took purely doctrinal errors intensely to heart, but Borghini
comes very close to him and proves that laymen and not only priests were profoundly
influenced by the Tridentine reforms. He criticizes that Michelangelo has represented
angels without wings and that certain figures have draperies blown about by the wind, in
spite of the fact that at the Day of Judgement wind and storm will have ceased.
Furthermore, the trumpeting angels are shown all standing together where in the text it
says that they should be sent into the four corners of Earth. Some of the dead are bare
skeletons while others are already clothed with flesh and in the Biblical version, the
general Resurrection will take place instantaneously. Christ is also shown standing rather
than being seated His throne of glory
3. What is Gilios attitude toward Michelangelos use of nudity in the Last Judgment
? Gilio
admits that Michelangelos work is beautiful and of the highest artistic achievement, but
why is this wrong in his eyes?
a. Gilio decides that even when the Biblical narrative says that the figures should be naked,
the artist must equip them with loincloths. Many are shocked by the representation of the
Infant Christ as naked and Possevino is horrified at the idea of any nude appearing in
any painting anywhere. Many believed that nudes were not to be found in religious art
during that period, and even figures only partially draped would be considered rare. Gilio
admits the merits of Michelangelo, but also praises them. He says that Michelangelo
restored painting to splendour in its externals and that he has shown all that art can
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