Pozzo, Glorification of Saint Ignatius, Sant’Ignazio

Pozzo, Glorification of Saint Ignatius, Sant’Ignazio


(lighthearted music0 Male Voiceover: We’re
standing on a small circle of yellow stone in the middle of the floor of the nave of Saint Ignatius in Rome, and we’re looking up at
a miraculous ceiling. Female Voiceover: It really is miraculous. As we look up, we see the architecture,
the plasters, the columns. The colored marble of the nave
walls continue up into the ceiling, and it looks so real, but
we know that it’s paint. Male Voiceover: That transition between the actual stone architecture
and the painted surface, it seems that its rise up infinitely
into the heavens is imperceptible. I can’t always make out where
one stops and one begins. Female Voiceover: No, it’s impossible. Male Voiceover: Even
when the artist, Pozzo, is rendering figures that
we know are simply paint, for instance, the angels,
there is a kind of veracity, there’s a kind of physicality,
even as they hover. Look, for instance, at the red angel. That wing is simply coming towards us. Female Voiceover: We know that
the figures have to be paint because they’re not
actually flying around, but it’s almost impossible not
to be absorbed into this illusion that we’re looking up at Saint Ignatius being welcomed into
heaven by Christ himself. Male Voiceover: Well, this is the point, that this erasure of the distinction between our physical world and
the miraculous world of heaven, this brings us into proximity with
the divine in the most direct way. Female Voiceover: Well, it’s as though where a heavenly miracle
is appearing before us as though we are having
a spiritual vision. Male Voiceover: This is
the counter-reformation. The Jesuits are at the
center of the attempt by the Catholic church
to reclaim their primacy. They’re with the defenders and the
propagators of the Catholic faith. Female Voiceover: Right, the
idea of defending the faith against the Protestants at this moment, and also areas of the world
that were not Christianized, and bringing them into
the fold of the church, enhancing the power of the church. Male Voiceover: In
fact, Pozzo, the artist, has really made that clear by representing the four great continents of the earth, Asia, the Americas, Europe, and Africa; and so this notion of the
expansion of Catholicism to be come this universal truth
is central to this painting. Female Voiceover: That was really what Loyola’s intention was in
founding the Jesuit order. Male Voiceover: What we
have in this painting is a reminder of just how
important it was to reassert the Catholic faith’s
belief in the miraculous. Female Voiceover: As we
stand in the [neath], I almost feel my body
rising toward the ceiling, because as we look up, we see figures who are also moving toward heaven, and I think that’s something
that [proregard] always does weather we’re looking at
Caravaggio, or Bernini, or here with Pozzo, is
breaking down that barrier between our world and the
world of the heavenly. Male Voicoever: In fact, what you describe is expressed directly
by the artist, Pozzo, in a letter where he details what
the intent of this painting was. Female Voiceover: He wrote
about how he represented rays sent from heaven, caught in a shield inscribed with the name of
Jesus, used to light the flames of divine love in a golden cauldron, used to be distributed by angels. On the opposite side of the vault, avenging angels threaten those
who resist the light of faith with divine wrath in the form
of thunder bolts and javelins. I think that this quote show us the
two sides of the counter-reformation. One is to reaffirm the
faith of those who believe, and the other is to attack those
who went against the church. Male Voiceover: Just as the
narrative of the painting describes the intention of the Jesuits, the style of the painting
is a beautiful description of the concerns of the Baroque. Look at the sense of energy,
the sense of theatricality, the sense of movement, the dynamism. You were mentioning the avenging angel, and look, for instance, at
the diagonal of that javelin. There’s nothing in this
painting that is static; even God is full of movement. Female Voiceover: That’s absolutely true. Even the clouds are
moving before us as though we were looking up into a real
sky with wind and atmosphere. Male Voiceover: So, the Baroque borrows the naturalism of the High Renaissance, but activates it and
puts it to a new purpose, which is here, the reaffirming
of the Catholic faith. Female Voiceover: We’ve
reached a natural end point that began with the
invention of perspective and the illusion that perspective creates, beginning with Masaccio’s Holy Trinity. Here we stand in one point in the church and that whole illusion
comes together for us and merges the physical
with the spiritual. Male Voiceover: An important point
of the art and the architecture is the blur the lines between
reality and the miraculous, and to make possible
the divine in our world, to make it seem as if we can pass
easily from one to the other. Metamorphosis is central here; the metamorphosis of
the soul is in a sense represented through the
metamorphosis of material. Female Voiceover: As we
walk through the church after looking up at the ceiling, I find myself questioning the reality
of the space I’m walking through. I start wondering if
it, too, is an illusion. (lighthearted music)

13 Replies to “Pozzo, Glorification of Saint Ignatius, Sant’Ignazio”

  1. Why is the Sistine Chapel so famous? This blows it out of the water and it's the first time I've ever heard about it.

  2. That painting is one of my favorite peices of art in all the world. The first time I saw it, I didn't know about the marks on the floor that show you where the best vantage points are. As I stared up at the ceiling, a little old Italian docent who spoke no English came over to me, smiled, took my arm, led me to the little ring in the floor and pointed up at the ceiling. When I looked back at the ceiling, I was utterly stunned. From that spot you literally cannot tell where the walls stop unless you look really closely. Many of the painted human figures almost look like statues hanging from the ceiling from that vantage as well. It's the most impressive and surprising piece of art I've ever seen. Also, the little old docent dude started laughing at me when I went all slack jawed and gobsmacked, which was really funny at the time. Sweet old dude.

  3. Awesome painting 3D effect ….i've been in Rome and the art is in everywhere with the gold era of art with the cream of the crop artists of all time.

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