Show Less
Restricted access

The Path of Humility

Caravaggio and Carlo Borromeo


Anne H. Muraoka

The Path of Humility: Caravaggio and Carlo Borromeo establishes a fundamental relationship between the Franciscan humility of Archbishop of Milan Carlo Borromeo and the Roman sacred works of Caravaggio. This is the first book to consider and focus entirely upon these two seemingly anomalous personalities of the Counter-Reformation. The import of Caravaggio’s Lombard artistic heritage has long been seen as pivotal to the development of his sacred style, but it was not his only source of inspiration. This book seeks to enlarge the discourse surrounding Caravaggio’s style by placing him firmly in the environment of Borromean Milan, a city whose urban fabric was transformed into a metaphorical Via Crucis. This book departs from the prevailing preoccupation – the artist’s experience in Rome as fundamental to his formulation of sacred style – and toward his formative years in Borromeo’s Milan, where humility reigned supreme. This book is intended for a broad, yet specialized readership interested in Counter-Reformation art and devotion. It serves as a critical text for undergraduate and graduate art history courses on Baroque art, Caravaggio, and Counter-Reformation art.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 1. Sacred Art before the Council of Trent


← 10 | 11 → ·1·


Two pilgrims kneel before the doorway of the Virgin’s home in Loreto. They are poor, weary, and dirty, yet their eyes shine with hope and awe. The Virgin and Child have miraculously appeared before the pilgrims’ eyes as a reward for their prayers and devotion. The Madonna di Loreto (see Fig. 38) is among Caravaggio’s most powerful altarpieces. It intricately merges the immediacy of traditional icons with the narrative exigency of Renaissance istoria, the past with the present, and the devotional with the didactic. Caravaggio, however, did not arrive at this formulation of sacred style alone. His style is informed by the conflict between the traditional role of sacred imagery as devotional aid and its transformation into a vehicle for displaying narrative artistry during the Renaissance on the one hand, and the development of a tangible and affective style in Lombardy during the cinquecento on the other.

Drawing upon the naturalistic tradition established by Leonardo during his Milanese years and the affective realism of the sculptural tableaux at the Sacro Monte di Varallo, Lombard sacred painting transformed into an experiential art by the end of the second decade of the sixteenth century. The development of a natural, affective, and tangible sacred style in Lombardy and the formulation of the Tridentine decree on images occurred independently. However, shortly after the closing of the Council of Trent in 1563, Lombard ← 11 | 12 → sacred style, I would...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.