THE HOLY NAME Art of the Gesù: Bernini and his Age

Exhibition Website

Feb 2 2018 - May 19 2018

This landmark exhibition, organized to commemorate Fairfield University’s 75th anniversary, features artistic treasures from the Roman church of the Gesù never before seen in America: Bernini’s bust of Roberto Bellarmino (patron saint of Fairfield University), Gaulli’s monumental painted wood model of the apse, a gilt bronze altar sculpture by the versatile painter, draftsman and sculptor Ciro Ferri, the sumptuous jeweled cartegloria from the altar of St. Ignatius, and the magnificent embroidered chasuble of the church’s great benefactor, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. These masterpieces are joined by more than fifty paintings, sculptures, rare books, precious objects, drawings, prints, and historical documents by Bernini, Domenichino, Gaulli, Ciro Ferri, Carlo Maratti, and Andrea Pozzo, among other Italian Baroque masters, on loan from American museums and private collections.

Together these masterpieces tell the fascinating and intertwined stories of the church’s early history and splendid interior embellishment, and the foundational chapters of the Society of Jesus. The exhibition's narrative threads include the enviable patronage of the powerful Farnese family, who championed the cause of the new order and funded the building of the Gesù; the long and at times challenging campaign to suitably embellish its austere and barren interior and dedicate its principal altars; and the imperative to formulate a new imagery exalting and promoting the Order’s founders, Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier, following their canonization in 1622.

This exhibition gives visitors to the museum an unparalleled window onto the extraordinary works of art found within the walls of the Gesù, the immensely talented artists who created them, and the powerful and strong-willed personalities whose vision, ambitions—and financial means—made it all possible.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
IMAGE: Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Italian, 1598-1680) Bust of Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, 1621-24. Marble, 30 ⅞ x 27 ½ x 19 ¾ in. (76.5 x 70 x 50 cm) Church of the Gesù, Rome
Photo Credit: Andrea Jemolo/Scala / Art Resource, NY

The exhibition catalogue is being sold through the University bookstore and is not yet available on Amazon. The catalogue is comprised of essays by experts on the art of the Gesù and the first two centuries of the Society of Jesus in Rome and illustrated entries on the works in the exhibition, edited by Linda Wolk-Simon and published by Saint Joseph’s University Press in Philadelphia. Essay authors are Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Andrew Horn, Christopher M. S. Johns, Evonne Levy, Franco Mormando, John O’Malley, S. J., Louise Rice, Betsy Rosasco, Xavier F. Salomon, John Beldon Scott and Linda Wolk-Simon.

Available through Amazon is Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque, which tells the story of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), the most influential sculptor of his age. Inventive and skilled, he virtually created the Baroque style. In his religious sculptures he excelled at capturing movement and extreme emotion, uniting figures with their setting to create a single conception of overwhelming intensity that expressed the fervour of Counter-Reformation Rome. Intensity and drama also characterize his portraits and world-famous Roman fountains.

Select Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque to learn more about this book or to place it in your Amazon shopping cart.

  • Various Media
  • International
  • 15th - 17th Century
  • Sacred
  • Gian Lorenzo Bernini
  • Domenichino
  • Carlo Maratti
  • Andrea Pozzo
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates