Professor Louise Rice spoke at the recent Renaissance Society of America annual conference, held in Berlin. In a session dedicated to Italian Baroque art, she spoke on “Joshua and the Jesuits: A Study in Multiplicity of Meaning.”
Summary: In the 1660s, the Father General of the Jesuit Order, Padre Oliva, proposed a remarkable scheme for the decoration of the apse of the Gesù in Rome. Above the high altar and the planned tomb of St Ignatius, he envisaged a triumphalist battle scene illustrating the victory of Joshua over the Amorites, to be executed in fresco by Jacques and Guillaume Courtois. The project never materialized and the relevant documents reveal little about it beyond the bare facts. But crucial circumstantial evidence in the form of a magnificent thesis broadsheet commissioned for a defense at the Roman College throws new light on this fascinating chapter in the history of Roman baroque painting. Uncovering a complex
tale of art, money, and international power politics, the paper explores the multiple
meanings of the Joshua story and the key role it was meant to play in the iconography of the Gesù.
Professor Louise Rice will speak at a conference on Bernini’s drawings to be held at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome later this month (April 20-21). Her paper, entitled “Bernini’s Presentation Drawings,” will explore questions of technique and function.