Reformation and Counter-Reformation
A persuasive language for religious art
The directions of the Council of Trent extol the power of images and their ability to inspire “piety, modesty, sanctity and devotion."
The directions of the Council of Trent (Gabriele Paleotti, Discourse on Sacred and Profane Images, 1582) extol the power of images and their ability to inspire “piety, modesty, sanctity and devotion", this power being such that “they penetrate us with greater violence than words”.
The search for “naturalism”, set against the excesses of Mannerism, coincides with the rediscovery of simplicity. Subjects related to the protomartyrs and places of worship related to them re-establish the value of the original Church.
In Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius of Loyola encourages the recreation, “with the mind’s eye”, of the sacred scene to be meditated upon.
During the 17th century, Baroque art would realise the principles of the Counter-Reformation through the conscious use of visual language as a means of persuasion and communication.
Annunciation

1584
Pinacoteca Nazionale
Bologna, Italy
Ludovico Carracci
Oil on canvas
The painting is considered one of the most important examples of Italian art during the Counter-Reformation. It represents many of Cardinal Paleottis instructions for more convincing and intimate representations of sacred themes.