AP®︎/College Art History
- Cranach, Law and Gospel (Law and Grace)
- Il Gesù, including Triumph of the Name of Jesus ceiling fresco
- Bruegel, Hunters in the Snow (Winter)
- Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hunters in the Snow (Winter)
- Caravaggio, Calling of Saint Matthew and Inspiration of St. Matthew
- Rubens, The Presentation of the Portrait of Marie de' Medici
- Rubens, The Presentation of the Portrait of Marie de' Medici
- Rembrandt, Self-Portrait with Saskia
- Geometry and motion in Borromini's San Carlo
- Bernini, Ecstasy of Saint Teresa
- Velázquez, Las Meninas
- Johannes Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance
- Château de Versailles
- Rachel Ruysch, Fruit and Insects
- William Hogarth, Marriage A-la-Mode (including Tête à Tête)
Il Gesu Church, the Jesuits' mother church, showcases Counter-Reformation architecture with a focus on the altar and Eucharist. Designed for clarity and accessibility, it holds large crowds and features a wide nave, side chapels, and a shortened transept. The ceiling, painted by Baroque artist Gaulli, creates a miraculous illusion with heavenly scenes and foreshortened figures. Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, Church of Il Gesu, Rome (consecrated 1584, ceiling fresco, The Triumph of the Name of Jesus, by il Baciccio, also known as Giovanni Battista Gaulli, 1672-1685). Speakers: Beth Harris, and Steven Zucker. Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.
Want to join the conversation?
- frank needs to stop cutting off my boi steven(76 votes)
- Stop! Stepping! On Beth's words! Let her speak!!(28 votes)
- You have a good point, but that ship has already sailed. The offenses to which you so rightly object happened a couple of years ago. Cite this page as: Frank Dabell, Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker, "Il Gesù, Rome," in Smarthistory, November 18, 2015, accessed December 28, 2017, https://smarthistory.org/il-gesu-rome/.
You might ask that Beth and the men re-record the audio as a scripted, rather than spontaneous, conversation.(3 votes)
- Cardinal Alexander Farnese was the patron? Was that the brother of Pope Alexander VI's famous lover Giulia Farnese?(9 votes)
- I checked a few websites and yes they are.. Alessandro is the Italian form of Alexander, and she did have a brother by that name. Alessandro also went on to become Pope Paul III. There is an interesting quote, "Through her intimacy with the Pope(Alexander VI), Giulia was able to get her brother Alessandro created Cardinal. This earned him the title of "Cardinal of the skirts" from Pasquino.(14 votes)
- At2:30they talk of Sicilian Jasper and ocher as building materials, what are these products?(4 votes)
This is sicilian jasper. Its mainly used for jewelry and sometimes architecture. Ocher is a yellowy orange pigment containing ferric oxide and clay.(3 votes)
- I'm confused; is this Mannerist or Baroque? In Barron's book for AP Art History they refer to the facade of the building as mannerist, but the painted celing on the inside as Baroque. Is this accurate? I've read different things online. Thanks to anyone who can help(2 votes)
- From the author:These terms are not always easy to apply and they don't always fit neatly. The fresco is Baroque in style and date. The architecture of the church is a little late for mannerism and a little early for the Baroque. I feel more comfortable calling it Counter-Reformation.(4 votes)
- Does anyone know how big it is?(1 vote)
- The Church of the Gesù is 75 metres (246 ft) long and 35 metres (115 ft) wide. The central nave is 25 metres (82 ft) wide.(5 votes)
- When Jesus died did he go through hell(1 vote)
- I will answer this as a theologian (which is what I do professionally). In the Apostles Creed, a basic statement of Western AND Eastern Christian churches, there's a phrase that goes, "he died and was buried. He descended into Hell. On the third day he rose from the dead." Of the details in that phrase, all can be sourced to scripture EXCEPT for the one "he descended into hell". Since the writings which were determined to BE scripture were selected (out of many) later than the composition of the creed, two things are possible.
1) In selecting those writings that got selected to be scripture, the church council that made the selection did sloppy work, and left out something important.
2) The phrase "descended into hell" should have been eliminated from the creed so that Christians since the time that the "scripture" was defined would not be saying something untrue.
Personally, I believe that there are many things which are true, even about Jesus, which are not contained solely in the scriptures.(3 votes)
- Will someone please update the subtitles? There are several notes that are incorrect.....the "mass", not mask, the mystery "cult", not mystery color, etc....Thanks for these videos, they are wonderful!(2 votes)
- The subtitles (or captions) are computer-generated. Khan Academy and Smarthistory are both non-profit organizations. You could volunteer to listen to the videos and produce accurate scripts, then donate them to either organization to upload to the YouTube videos. Otherwise, both organizations would have to pay people to create the subtitles, and there would be less money around for making more videos.(1 vote)
- How did the artistic elements of the ceiling fresco correspond to the historical context when it was decorated?(1 vote)
(gentle music) - [Steven] We've just walked into Il Gesu, the mother church of the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits. This order was founded by Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish noble who focused on preaching and converting the peoples of the world to Catholicism. - [Beth] Especially in Asia and Latin America. In the late 16th century, there was a need for a new kind of church architecture. The Protestant Reformation had occurred, Protestants challenging the authority of the church in Rome, the Pope, the Counter-Reformation had begun, the Catholic Church's efforts to fight back against Martin Luther, and the Jesuits were the main allies of the Pope in this response to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. - [Steven] And the effort to reassert the supremacy of the Catholic Church. - [Beth] This is the Church Triumphant. When you walk in here, there's no doubt that the church has a sense that it has triumphed and will triumph over the challenge of Protestantism. - [Steven] The focus, as soon as you walk into the church, is on the altar and the performance of the Eucharist that takes place there. - [Beth] Transubstantiation, the changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. More masses were performed during this period. More preaching took place. There was an engagement of the laity that was critical in this Counter-Reformation period. - [Steven] And the church is enormous in order to hold the great numbers of faithful. - [Beth] So what makes this church different than what came before? The architects of the High Renaissance fevered the centrally planned church, that is, a church that was based on a circle or a Greek cross. That is across with equal arms. They moved away from the traditional cruciform shape of a basilica. - [Steven] But in sharp contrast, this church is responding to the ideas that were set forth in the Council of Trent - [Beth] It was at the Council of Trent that the Catholic Church determined their response to Martin Luther and the Protestants. After the Council of Trent, we see a new interest in clarity in art and making the message very direct. - [Steven] And this church is designed to make the miraculous as accessible as possible. - [Beth] As soon as you walk in, you're struck by the breadth of the nave. We don't have side aisles. - [Steven] Instead, we have side chapels, and despite the immensity of the church, the focus on the altar, one of the things that Vignola did was to shorten the church in back of the crossing, so that the altar is pushed forward much more than in any comparable church of this size that came previously. - [Beth] And the transepts are also shortened. - [Steven] In fact, the transepts do not move laterally past the footprint of the chapels, so that the church really does function as a rectangle. - [Beth] So this focus on the altar, on holding large numbers of people who would come to hear sermons, this is what was important. So what we have is a return to the basilica. - [Steven] So far we've been talking about this church in relationship to the Counter-Reformation, but this church remains deeply indebted to Renaissance architecture, specifically the work of Alberti. The breadth of the barrel vault recalls the church of Saint Andrea in Mantua, and the facade unites the first and second stories with the use of these beautiful scrolls that are a direct reference back to Alberti's facade for Santa Maria Novella in Florence. This architecture derives authority from those precedents. - [Beth] In fact, we see classical references. if we look at the nave walls, where we see pairs of fluted pilasters with Corinthian capitals above that, a frieze, and then finally, a cornice. The barrel vault, the dome over the crossing, these are all elements derived from ancient Roman architecture. We could think about the Pantheon, just a few blocks away. - [Steven] Or the ancient Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine. This is the ancient vocabulary of the city of Rome being brought to bear in this new era when the Jesuits are celebrating the Catholic church as the universal church, as the triumphant church. - [Beth] Now, the decoration of the ceiling dates to about 100 years after the architecture itself and was done by the great Baroque painter Gaulli. - [Steven] This is one of the great ceiling paintings in the city of Rome. We have at its center the initials IHS. We see that everywhere in this church. This monogram symbolizes the name of Jesus. - [Beth] Saint Paul wrote that "in the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven on Earth and under the Earth." - [Steven] And of course, the name of his church, Il Gesu, is the name Jesus itself. - [Beth] So the power of the name of Jesus to help us achieve salvation. Now, barrel vaults are heavy things, but here it opens to the heavens, where we see the name of Jesus with a cross on top, surrounded by golden light, everywhere we look, angels alighting on cornices, seeming to fly through the air. - [Steven] But then slightly lower down, We see a number of figures suspended on clouds, creating a kind of arc across the barrel-vaulted ceiling. These figures are painted in wonderful foreshortening. - [Beth] These are the Elect. So we see them floating from where we are on Earth, up toward heaven, up toward that name of Jesus, and the illusion is so convincing because the artist is breaking the frame of the main area of the fresco and carrying the painting around it, using paintings on wooden panels that cover the architecture of the vaulted ceiling - [Steven] And are slightly lifted off the ceiling, creating an even greater sense of dimensionality. Now, as if that wasn't enough, what the artist has done is to paint shadow on the ceiling itself, creating this incredibly convincing illusion that those figures exist in three dimensions above us and are casting shadows on the actual architecture. - [Beth] This must have made you feel, in your body, a sense of the miraculous. - [Steven] Now, that's not to say that people in the 17th century believed these paintings to be real. - [Beth] Well, we don't believe everything we watch in a movie, but while we're watching it, we feel as though it's real. - [Steven] There's one painted group that we haven't spoken about. They're largely in shadow. If the arc were the Elect, those rising to heaven, these are the Damned being cast down into hell. One of my favorite aspects of this part of the painting is the figure holding a book. He comes out of the ceiling in such a convincing manner, but if we were to measure him, he would be so much larger than life. - [Beth] And it's using that technique of foreshortening to move these figures in and out of the viewer's space that makes this so compelling, and boundaries dissolve in this church, the boundary between the earthly and the heavenly. (gentle music)