Robert L. Kendrick
This volume provides an opportunity to assess, across a number of fields, a new approach to the creativity and diversity of the cultural manifestations of religious expression in early modern Italy. Freed from the essentially negative implications of 'Counter-Reformation' or 'post-Tridentine' terminology, and rather than subsuming all cultural artifacts under a totalizing rubric of 'Baroque', scholars have begun to take up the challenge set out by Paolo Prodi over a decade ago, by attempting to show some of the real chronological differences in the interplay of aesthetics and devotion over a century.1 As might be expected at a historical juncture in which the intellectual world of Catholicism was turning rigid and conservative, some of this work is not without triumphalist, hagiographic, or uncritical presuppositions. Still, a number of monographs and longer studies have impressively underscored the diversity, locally conditioned freedom, and aesthetic polystilism of sacred art around 1600. In the field of literature, one might list the anti-Petrarchan turn in sacred poetry, most evident in the work of the poets Gabriele Fiamma and Angelo Grillo, analyzed by Marc Föcking; the interplay among philosophy, liturgy and eloquence at the Papal court described by Frederick McGinness; the inventiveness of emblematic and computational thought found in sacred poetry and rhetoric, as outlined by the lifework of Giovanni Pozzi; the eclectic mixture of Augustinian thought and more moderns epistemes in Italian devotional literature shown by Carlo Ossola and his students, or the kinds of local historiography studied in Piacenza by Simon Ditchfield, who has also provided the best overview of the variety of local devotional and aesthetic practice.2 Several art historians attempting similar efforts are present in this volume, and I will forbear to mention them here.
1 Prodi (1989).
2 The list is necessarily highly selective: Föcking (1994), McGinness (1995), Pozzi