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Jesuits and the Baroque

Jesuits have been flavour of the month in the National Gallery, Ireland. For three months, until the end of May, it will be hosting an exhibition under the title Passion & Persuasion: Images of Baroque Saints. The exhibition has come about as part of the bi-centenary celebrations of the restoration of the Jesuit order in 1814. It brings together a select number of paintings from the Gallery’s collection which depicts popular Counter-Reformation saints such as Mary Magdalene and John the Baptist. Included in the display is a copy of the ‘Spiritual Exercises’ by Ignatius Loyola (on loan from the Jesuit Library, Dublin), and two volumes of the ‘Acts of the Saints’ (on loan from Marsh’s Library). The exhibition is on view in the Beit Wing, until 31 May 2015. Admission is free.

A celebration of the exhibition was held in the gallery on 19 February, and several speakers contributed: Peter Sutherland on the Jesuits and the Arts; Audrey Nicholls on the exhibition which she has organised; Noel Barber, its Jesuit animator, on its place in the bicentenary celebrations of the Society; Sean Rainbird, director of the gallery, and Peter Cherry of Trinity, speaking on Velasquez, whose devotion to the Jesuits found expression in naming his daughter Ignatia – and his library held many books by Jesuits on maths and perspective.

Dr Cherry’s was the first of nine lectures on the theme The Art of the High Renaissance and the Baroque, listed below. They highlight the Jesuit influence on the latter, particularly The Spiritual Exercises, “which provided a form of meditation that encouraged reliance on the five senses”.

The keynote lecture, ‘The Jesuits and the Arts in the Tridentine Era’, will be given on 5 March by Fr  John O’Malley SJ from Washington. Tickets €8.50/ €5 Concessions, from the Gallery Shop.

Sunday, 1 March, 3pm: The Significance of the Discovery of a Caravaggio in Dublin. Noel Barber SJ, Chair, Gonzaga College

Tuesday, 3 March, 10.30am: An Introduction to ‘Images of Baroque Saints’. Dr. Audrey Nicholls, NGI guest curator

Sunday, 8 March, 3pm: Saints and Sinners: Caravaggio’s Northern European Followers. Dr Louise Kelly, University College Dublin

Tuesday, 10 March, 10.30am: The Agony and the Ecstasy: Male and Female Baroque Saints. Dr Joseph McDonnell, Freelance art historian

Sunday, 15 March, 3pm: St Alexis, Baroque Opera Star. Adrian Le Harivel, National Gallery of Ireland

Sunday, 22 March, 3pm: Female Baroque Saints. Dr Catherine Lawless, Trinity College Dublin

Tuesday, 24 March, 10.30am: Old Master Drawings in the NGI Collection. Niamh MacNally, National Gallery of Ireland

Sunday, 29 March, 3pm: Religious Imagery in Spanish Art of the Golden Age. Dr Stephen Boyd, University College Cork

Tuesday, 31 March, 10.30am: The History of Saint Isidore’s, Irish Franciscan College, Rome. Padraig Edwards, University College Dublin

Photo: René Slaats / Flickr (CC)