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Vortrag Christopher Johns



von 18:15 bis 20:15




Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Vortragsraum 242, II. OG, Katharina-von-Bora-Straße 10, 80333 München

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Public Art and Catholic Enlightenment: Strategies of Display and Social Utility in the Rome of Clement XII Corsini, 1730-1740

This lecture examines the public art patronage of Pope Clement XII (largely directed by his nephew, Cardinal Neri Corsini) in the context of Catholic enlightenment ideas concerning art as a vehicle of social improvement and the Church as an institution dedicated to public service. Three case studies of this phenomenon will be presented. The Capitoline Museum, the first cultural institution in the western world with truly public access, was established to safeguard the cultural patrimony of Rome as well as to promote the improvement of "taste" as a form of public pedagogy based on the notion of the superiority of ancient Graeco-Roman aesthetics. The church and convent of the Bambin Gesù, built under the Corsini aegis to enhance the activities of poor girls who made cult images of the Christ Child as well as ecclesiastical garments and altar cloths, are also an important example of patronage directed towards public service and social utility in an enlightenment context. Finally, a series of canonization pictures produced for Clement XII that underscore the social utility, rather than the mystical activities, of newly-created saints will be presented as evidence of a conviction that Catholic religious truths could and should be reconciled with enlightenment principles and ideologies of public service in early eighteenth-century Rome.

Prof. Dr. Christopher Johns
Norman and Roselea Goldberg Professor of History of Art and Chair of the Department of History of Art at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He has published books on the art patronage of Pope Clement XI Albani (Cambridge 1993) and Antonio Canova (California 1998) and wrote the introductory essay for the exhibition catalogue Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century (Philadelphia and London 2000). At present, he is preparing a book-length manuscript titled "Papal Art and Catholic Enlightenment: The Cultural Patronage of Clement XII and Benedict XIV." He is Past President of the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture and is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome.