Mrs. (Anna) Jameson.

Legends of the monastic orders, as represented in the fine arts. Forming the second series of Sacred and legendary art online

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saint pleading at the feet of the Saviour in behalf of
sinners in purgatory. In the Rubens-religious style,
in color, and character, and life, this picture is as fine
as possible ; and it must accomplish its purpose in point
of expression, for, as I well recollect, I could not look
on it without emotion. Rubens, who had been in
Spain, has here given a real and characteristic portrait
of the saint. The features are large and heavy, yet
bright with enthusiastic adoration and benignity.

Another picture by the same painter represents St.
Theresa in her cell, enraptured by an apparition of the
Saviour ; an angel behind him bears the fire-tipped
arrow of Divine love. This, I believe, is one of the
few pictures of Rubens never engraved.

By Massarotti : — St. Theresa intercedes for the city
of Cremona when besieged by the French.

By Guercino : — St. Theresa with her patron saint,
Joseph. Another, in which our Saviour reveals to her
the glory of Paradise. Another, in which the Virgin
presents to her the l'osary. Another, in which St.
Theresa receives the habit from the hand of the Blessed
Virgin, in presence of her patron St. Joseph, St. Al-
bert, and St. Juan de la Cruz : painted for the Carme-
lite nuns at Messina. (Milan Gal.)

Attributed to Alonzo Cauo (Sp. Gal. of King Louis
Philippe) : — A St. Theresa, crowned with thorns and


holding in her hands the instruments of the Passion.
Another, in which she ministers to a sick child. Both
pictures too poor and bad for Alonzo Cano ; the heads,
however, are characteristic.

In a small picture in the possession of Mr. Ford, St.
Theresa is kneeling on one knee, sustaining on the
other an open book, in which she is about to write ; an
inkhorn and a distaff lie at her feet ; above, the Holy-
Dove is seen descending from the skies. On a prie-
dieu behind are the words, " Misericordia Domini eter-
nam cantabo."

There are some pictures of her in the magnificent
Church of the Scalzi at Venice, but none good.

The fame and the effigies of St. Theresa have been
extended to the East. Miss Martineau found a figure
of her in the convent of her Order on Mount Carmel ;
and I extract the beautiful and animated account of
this picture, as equally characteristic of the writer and
the subject : —

" The church of the convent is handsome ; and it
contains a picture worth noting, — the portrait of St.
Theresa, whom I agree with Bossuet in thinking one
of the most interesting of the saints of his Church.
The bringing together of remote thoughts in travel is
as remarkable to the individual as the bringing togeth-
er of remote personages in the action of human life.
How I used to dwell on the image of St. Theresa in
my childhood, and long, in an ignorant sympathy with
her, to be a nun ! And then, as I grew wiser, I be-
came ashamed of her desire for martyrdom, as I should
have been in any folly in a sister, and kept my fondness
for her to myself. But all the while that was the The-
resa of Spain; — now wandering among the Moors in
search of martyrdom, and now shutting herself up in
her hermitage in her father's garden at Avila. It had
never occurred to me that I should come upon her
traces at Mount Carmel. But here she was, worship-
ped as the rcformatrix of her Order. It was she who
made the Carmelites barefooted ; i. c. sandalled, instead


of shod. It was she who dismissed all the indulgences
which had crept in among her Order ; and she obtained,
by her earnestness, such power over the baser parts of
human nature in those she had to deal with, as to re-
form the Carmelite Order altogether : witness, before
her death, the foundation of thirty convents, wherein
her rule was to be practised in all its severity. Mar-
tyrdom by the Moors was not good enough for her ; it
would have been the mere gratification of a selfish crav-
ing for spiritual safety. She did much more for God
and man by living to the age of sixty-seven, and bring-
ing back the true spirit into the corrupted body of her
Order. There she is, — the woman of genius and de-
termination, — looking at us from out of her stiff head-
gear, — as true a queen on this mountain-throne as any
empress who ever wore a crown ! " — Eastern Life, vol.
hi. p. 235.

In companionship with St. Theresa we find her
friend San Juan de la Cruz, a Spanish Carmelite,
whom she had united with herself as coadjutor in her
plans of reform. He was the first barefooted Carmel-
ite, and famous for his terrible penances and mortifica-
tions. He is often represented in pictures with St.
Theresa, kneeling before the throne of the Virgin. He
died in 1591, and was canonized by Clement X. in
1675. Mr. Stirling mentions a series of fifty-eight
plates on the history of St. Juan de la Cruz, " a holy
man who was frequently favored with interviews with
our Saviour, and who on one of these occasions made
an uncouth sketch of the Divine apparition, which was
loner reserved as a relic in the Convent of the Incar-
nation at Avila."

A fine picture by Murillo, in the gallery of the King
of Holland, represents San Juan de la Cruz in his Car-
melite habit, kneeling before an altar, on which lie a
crucifix and some lilies; four vellum folios, lettered
with the titles of his works, are on the ground at his


St. Andrea Corsini, though he lived in the four-
teenth century, was not canonized till the middle of the
seventeenth, some years later than St. Theresa.

He was horn in 1302, one of the nohle family of
Corsini at Florence, and, until his sixteenth year, was
wild, disobedient, and addicted to vicious company, so
that his parents were wellnigh in despair. One day
his mother, in a passion of grief aud tears, exclaimed,
" Thou art the wolf whom I saw in my dream ! " The
youth, startled by this apostrophe, looked at her, and
she continued, fixing her eyes upon him, " Before
thou wert born I dreamed I had given birth to a wolf,
but I saw that wolf enter in at the open door of a
church, and behold he was changed into a lamb ! "
He heard her in silence. The next day, passing by
the church of the Carmelites, an irresistible impulse
induced him to enter ; and, kneeling down before the
altar of the Virgin, he poured out his soul in penitence
and prayer. So complete was the change in his mind
and disposition, that he refused to return to the house
of his parents, and became a Carmelite friar at the age
of seventeen. From this time to the age of seventy he
lived an example of humility and piety, and died Bishop
of Fiesole in 1373. He was so much venerated by the
Florentines, that they attributed to his especial inter-
cession and protection their victory over Niccolo Picin-
ino, in the battle of Anghiari in 1440. He was canon-
ized by Urban VIII. in 1629.

Soon after his canonization, Guido painted for the
Corsini family the beautiful picture which is now at
Bologna. It represents St. Andrea as Bishop of Fie-
sole, standing and looking up to heaven with the finest
expression it is possible to conceive : in one hand he
holds the pastoral staff; in the left, which is gloved,
he holds the Scriptures. Another picture, painted for
the Corsini family at Rome, represents St. Andrea
kneeling, and surrounded by a choir of angels.

His sumptuous chapel in the Carmini at Florence is
adorned with bas-reliefs from his life, in white marble.


The one on the left represents his first celebration of
mass ; in his great humility he avoided the festive and
triumphant preparations made by his family to solem-
nize the oceasion/and withdrew to a little chapel at
some distance from thejrity, where, instead of the usual
cortege of prelates, priests, and singers, the Virgin her-
self and a choir of angels assisted in the celebration.
On the other side is the victory of the Florentines at
Anghiari ; the saint appears hovering above, with his
pastoral staff in one hand, and a sword in the other.
In the bas-relief over the altar, he is carried up to
heaven by angels. Guercino painted him for the Car-
mini at Brescia ; and in general he may be found in
the Carmelite churches, always attired as bishop; but
the pictures are of a late date, and not good. The
palm distinguishes St. Albert from St. Andrea Corsini.

Saxta Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi was another
Florentine saint of this Order, one of the noble family
of the Pazzi, of whom nothing is recorded but her ex-
treme sanctity and humility, and the temptations and
tribulations of her solitude. She was beatified by Ur-
ban VIII. in 1626, and canonized by Alexander VIII,
in 1670. There is a church at Florence bearing her

The pictures in her honor are, of course, of the latest
Italian school. The best of these, by Luca Giordano,
represents the mystic Sposalizia, always the chief inci-
dent in the life of a sainted nun. Here an angel gives
her away, and presents her hand to the Saviour ; an-
other angel holds the lily, emblem of the purity of these

I cannot quit the subject of the Carmelites, in their
connection with Art, without mentioning one of their
Order, conspicuous as a favorite theme for painters and
poets; — the Sceur Louise de la Misericorde,
who, when she lived in the world and for the world,


was the Duchesse de la Valliere. She was never can-
onized, therefore the pictures of her in her Carmelite
dress do not properly belong to sacred art ; but if sor-
row and suffering and a true repentance, — if the last-
ing influence of her example, and undying interest and
celebrity of her story, — could be regarded as a species
of canonization, she might well claim a place among
the martyrs as well as among the saints. She entered
the Carmelite Order in the year 1674, at the age of
thirty. The picture of "Mary Magdalene renouncing
the world," which Le Brun painted by her command
as an altar-piece for the convent in which she made her
profession, has been considered as a portrait of her ;
but I believe there is no foundation for the traditional
interest given to this picture, and to the still more
famous print of Edelinck, the masterpiece of the en-
graver. The fine penitent Magdalene in the Munich
Gallery, a head in profile, is more likely to be the por-
trait of La Valliere so often alluded to by writers on
her life and that of Le Brun. Pictures and prints of
the " Soeur Louise de la Mise'ricorde," in her Carmelite
habit, were once very popular : there is a very good
one in the British Museum.


ONFINING myself within the limits of my
subject, I have but little to say of the Jes-
uits in their relation to sacred art.

It seems to me, looking on them from
this point of view, a misfortune to them that their rise
as a religious community, and the period of their great-
est influence, should have been coeval with the decline
and absolute depravation of the fine arts. It was also
a misfortune to art and artists, that there was nothing
in the spirit of the Order which conduced to their re-
generation. There was no want of means, no want of
munificence. Wealth incalculable was lavished on the
embellishment of their sumptuous churches. Decora-
tions of gold and silver, of alabaster and lapis-lazuli,
of rare and precious marbles, — light, brilliance, color,
— all was combined that could render the temples, built
under the Jesuit auspices, imposing and dazzling to the
vulgar eye. The immediate end was gained ; the
transient effect was produced : but, in absolutely ignor-
ing the higher powers and neglecting the more lasting
effects in art, they have lost — at least they have failed
to gain — some incalculable advantages which might
have been theirs, in addition to others of which they
well knew how to avail themselves.*

* In the first edition of this volume, the Jesuits were repre-
sented as having neglected the capabilities of art as a means of
instruction. This, on further consideration, must be retracted ;


If the Jesuits were not wholly insensible to the an-
cient influences of art as a vehicle of instruction, they
yet showed themselves incapable of arresting — they
even did much in assisting — the downward tendencies
of the later schools. Some two or three pictures painted
for the Order are really fine in their way ; some may
be valuable as documents ; none are in any degree
allied to the poetry of art. Aud this was, perhaps, not
to be imputed to them as a reproach : we are not to
infer that the Jesuits, as a body, were answerable for
the decline of art in the seventeenth century : it had
begun a hundred years before the canonization of their
great saint ; a hundred years before their gorgeous
churches arose, — monuments of those worldly ten-
dencies in art which, if they did not cause, they at
least did not cure. Nor, amid the many distinguished
and enlightened men, — men of science, classical schol-
ars, antiquarians, astronomers, mathematicians, — which
their Order sent forth to every region of the world, can
I recollect the name of a single artist, unless it be
Father Pozzi, renowned for his skill in perspective, and
who used his skill less as an artist than as a conjurer,
to produce such illusions as make the vulgar stare ; —
to make the impalpable to the grasp appear as pal-
pable to the vision ; the near seem distant, the distant
near; the unreal, real ; to cheat the eye; to dazzle the
sense; — all this has Father Pozzi most cunningly
achieved in the Gesu and the Sant' Ignazio at Rome ;
but nothing more, and nothing better, than this. I
was angry with him ; I wearied of his mock altar-pieces,
and his wonderful roofs which pretended to be no roofs

for certainly, as a means of education, and for their own religious
views and political purposes, the arts were, by this sagacious and
powerful Order, largely employed. The innumerable engravings
and illustrated books of the lives of the Saviour, the Virgin Mary,
and the saints, some in a very cheap, and almost all in an attrac-
tive form, which inundated the Low Countries and Germany dur-
ing the seventeenth century, were issued mostly under the direc-
tion and at the expense of the Jesuits. They were also the chief
patrons — crowned heads excepted — of Rubens aud Vandyck.


at all. Scenic tricks and deceptions in art should be
kept for the Theatre. It appeared to me nothing less
than profane to introduce shams into the Temples of

Certainly it cannot be said of the principal saints of
the Jesuits that they deserved this fantastic treatment.
Their Ignatius Loyola, their Francis Xavier, their Fran-
cis Borgia, are among the most interesting, as well as
the most extraordinary, men the world has seen. Noth-
ing can be conceived more picturesque, as well as instruc-
tive, than their lives and characters : nothing finer as
subjects of art ; — but art has done little or nothing for
them, therefore I am here constrained to say but little
of them.

In pictures the Jesuits are not easily distinguished.
They wear the black frock buttoned up to the throat ;
but the painters of the seventeenth century, avoiding
the mass of black, and meagre formal lines, have gener-
ally given to the Jesuit saints, those at least who were
ordained priests, the dress of priests or canons, — the
albe or the chasuble, and, where the head is covered,
the square black cap. In Spain and Italy they now
wear a large black hat turned up at each side, — such
as Don Basilio wears in the opera; but such hats I
have never seen in sacred pictures. By an express
clause in their regulations, the Jesuits were permitted
to assume the dress in use in the country they inhabit-
ed, whenever they deemed it expedient.

St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits,
was born in his father's castle of Loyola, in the year
1491, of a race so noble that its head was always sum-
moned to do homage to the throne by a special writ.
He began life as page in the court of Ferdinand the
Catholic, and afterwards entered the army, in which he
was distinguished for his romantic bravery and his love
of pleasure. His career under ordinary circumstances


would probably have been that of the cavaliers of his
time, who sought distinction in court and camp ; but it
was suddenly arrested. At the siege of Pampeluna, in
1521, he was wounded in both legs by a cannon-ball.
Dreading the disfigurement of his handsome person, he
caused his wounds to be twice reopened and a protrud-
ing bone sawed off, at the hazard of his life ; but the
intense agony, though borne with unshrinking courage,
was borne in vain, — he was maimed for life.

In the long confinement consequent on his sufferings
he called for his favorite books of romance and poetry,
but none were at the moment to be found ; they brought
him the Life of Christ and the Lives of the Saints. A
change came over his mind : he rose from his sick couch
another man. The " lady " to whom he henceforth de-
voted himself was to be " neither countess nor duchess,
but one of far nobler state," — the Holy Virgin, Mother
of the Saviour; and the wars in which he was to fight
were to be waged against the spiritual foes of God,
whose soldier he was henceforth to be.

As soon as he was sufficiently recovered he made a
pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montserrat, and hung up
his sword and lance before her altar. He then repaired
to Manresa. Here he gave himself up for a time to the
most terrible penances for his past sins, and was thrown
into such a state of horror and doubt that more than
once he was tempted to put an end to his miserable
existence. He escaped from these snares. He beheld
visions, in which he was assured of his salvation ; in
which the mysteries of faith were revealed to him : he
saw that which he had formerly only believed. For
hi in what need was there to study, or to consult the
Scriptures, for testimony to those divine truths which
were made known to him by immediate intercourse with
another world ? He set oft' for Jerusalem with the inten-
tion of fixing his residence in the holy city ; but this
was not permitted, and he returned to Spain. Here
he was opposed in his spiritual views by those who
condemned him for his former life and his total want


of theological learning. He could not obtain the privi-
lege of teaching till he had gone through a course of
study of four years' duration. He submitted ; he had
to begin with the rudiments, to sit on the same form
with boys studying grammar, — to undergo whatever we
can conceive of most irksome to a man of his age and
disposition. After conquering the first difficulties he
repaired to Paris. Here he met with five companions,
who were persuaded to enter into his views : Faber, a
Savoyard of mean extraction, but full of talent and
enthusiasm; Francis Xavier, a Spaniard of a noble
family, handsome "in person, and singularly accom-
plished ; the other three were also Spaniards, then study-
ing philosophy at Paris, — Salmeron, Laynez, and Boba-
dilla. These, with four others, under the direction and
influence of Ignatius, formed themselves into a commu-
nity. They bound themselves by the usual vows of
poverty, chastity, and obedience ; and they were to take
besides a vow of especial obedience to the head of the
Church for the time being, devoting themselves without
condition or remuneration to do his pleasure, and go to
any part of the world to which he should see fit to send

Ignatius repaired to Rome, and spent three years
there before he could obtain the confirmation of his
Institute. It was at length granted by Paul III. The
essential duties of the new Order were to be three : —
preaching in the first place ; secondly, the guidance of
souls through confession ; and, thirdly, the education of
the young. As Ignatius carried into his community
the ideas and habits of a soldier, so the first virtue incul-
cated was the soldier's virtue, — absolute, unhesitating
obedience ; and he called his society the " Company of
Jesus," just as a company of soldiers is called by the
name of its captain.

He died first General of his Order in 1556, and was
canonized by Gregory XV. in 1622.

When once we have seen a head of St. Ignatius Lov-


ola in a print or a picture, we can never afterwards mis-
take it. The type does not vary, and has never been
idealized. It does not appear that any portrait of him
was painted during his life, although they show such a
picture in the Casa Professa at Rome. Impressions in
wax were taken from his features after death ; and from
these, assisted by the directions of Father Ribadeneira,
Sanchez Coello painted a head which afterwards served
as a model. In its general character, this head is famil-
iar to us in art : a square, high, powerful brow ; a melan-
choly and determined, rather than stern, countenance ;
short black hair, bald on the temples, very little beard,
and a slight black mustache. " So majestic," says,
his biographer, "was the aspect of Loyola, that, during
the sixteenth century, few, if any, of the books of his
Order appeared without the impress of that imperial

The figure painted by Rubens for the Jesuits at Ant-
werp is now at Warwick Castle. The head is wonder-
fully fine, and quite true to the Spanish type : he wears
the chasuble as priest, and his hand is on an open book,
on which are inscribed the first words of his Rule, —
Ad Majorem Dei ghriam. The square black cap hangs
behind him. The chasuble is splendid, — of a deep
scarlet embroidered with gold.

In general, Ignatius is distinguished by the | W S,
the monogram of the Order, — sometimes in a glory in
the sky above, sometimes on a tablet borne by angels.
The heart crowned with thorns, the Sacre Cceur, is also
an attribute ; it is the crest or device of the Order.

The subjects taken from his life have not been^ as
far as I know or can learn, the most striking and pict-
uresque incidents of that wonderful life : — not Ignatius
studying on his sick-bed ; — nor Ignatius performing
his midnight watch in the chapel of Our Lady, hanging
up his lance before her altar, and dedicatir^g himself to
her service ; — nor the solemn vows in the chapel at
Montmartre ; — nor the prayer at Jerusalem ; — nor
even his death scene. These may oxisf but neither in


prints nor in pictures have I met with them. The
favorite subjects have been his miracles, his visions, or
his penances.

After his penances in the cavern at Manresa, he
began his vocation of saint in the usual manner, by-
healing the sick, and casting out demons. The par-
ticular time and locality chosen by Rubens for his
splendid picture of " the Miracles of St. Ignatius "
(Vienna Gal.) I cannot fix ; but it must have been a
later period, for Ignatius is here dressed as an ordained
priest, and stands on the steps of an altar, which could
not have occurred before 1540. One hand rests on the
altar ; the other is raised as in command. Near him
stand his nine companions, Pierre Faber, Francisco
Xavier, Iago Laynez, Alfonso Salmeron, Nicolas Boba-
dilla, Simon Rodriguez, Claude le Jay, Jean Codur,
and Pasquier Brouet. These formed the first Society ;
all became historically memorable, and the heads here
are so fine, so diversified, and have so much the air of
portraits, that I think it probable Rubens had authority
for each of them — (I speak, of course, of the picture,
and not of the print, which, though fine, is in this respect
defective). The principal group at the foot of the altar
consists of a demoniac woman, with her relatives,
among whom the son and the daughter of the afflicted
creature are admirable : another demoniac, who has
broken his bonds, lies raging and struggling on the
ground. On the right, a young mother presents her
sick child ; — another points out the saint to her two
children ; — over the head of the saint are angels who
seem to chase away the hideous demons, disappearing
in the distance. All the figures are life-size, and the
execution, in the manner of Rubens, is as fine as

" The Vision of St. Ignatius " represents the miracu-
lous comfort afforded to him when on his way to Rome.
Having gone aside into a little chapel to pray, leaving
Laynez and his companions on the outside, he beheld
the form of our Saviour, bearing his cross, who, stand-


Online LibraryMrs. (Anna) JamesonLegends of the monastic orders, as represented in the fine arts. Forming the second series of Sacred and legendary art → online text (page 39 of 41)