Maarten Delbeke, The Art of Religion. Sforza Pallavicino and Art Theory in Bernini's Rome, Ashgate, 2012, 20 ill. b&w, 258 p.
ISBN : 978-0-7546-3485-0. £ 60

Bernini and Pallavicino, the artist and the Jesuit cardinal, are closely related figures at the papal courts of Urban VIII and Alexander VII, at which Bernini was the principal artist. The analysis of Pallavicino's writings offers a new perspective on Bernini's art and artistry and allow us to understand the visual arts in papal Rome as a 'making manifest' of the fundamental truths of faith.

Pallavicino's views on art and its effects differ fundamentally from the perspective developed in Bernini's biographies offering a perspective on the tension between artist and patron, work and message. In Pallavicino's writings the visual arts emerge as being intrinsically bound up with the very core of religion involving questions of idolatry, mimesis and illusionism that would prove central to the aesthetic debates of the eighteenth century.

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