Item #78 Art, Controversy, and the Jesuits:; The Imago Primi Saeculi (1640). S. J. John W. O'Malley.

Art, Controversy, and the Jesuits:; The Imago Primi Saeculi (1640)

Price: $120.00

Place Published: Philadelphia
Publisher: Saint Joseph's University Press
Date Published: 2015
ISBN: 9780916101848
Book ID: 78


Early Modern Catholicism and the Visual Arts Series, Vol. 12

Hardcover / 771 pp. / 13 x 9 in. / 466 b/w and color images

Includes a DVD with the 127 emblems from the 1640 edition of the Imago scanned in high resolution for general use.

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In 1640 the Society of Jesus observed the centenary of its founding with elaborate celebrations worldwide. The most lasting monument from the occasion is the Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesu, a magnificent volume of 952 folio-sized pages of poetry, prose, and 127 exquisite copperplate engravings published by the prestigious Plantin-Moretus Press, Antwerp, in a Latin edition, followed later that year by a Dutch adaptation. No other book better reveals Jesuit self-understanding at the moment when the order had achieved its mature form. The ink was hardly dry on its pages before it became an object of controversy, one of the first volleys in the bitter Jesuit/Jansenist culture war that divided French society for a century and that contributed to the papal suppression of the Jesuits in 1773.

Art, Controversy, and the Jesuits is the most comprehensive study of the important book ever to appear. Besides facsimile reproductions of the 127 emblems intersperse through the Imago and translations of the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew poetry attached to them, the book, edite dand introduced by John W. O'Malley, consists in contributions by scholors from Académie francaise, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Brown University, and Georgetown University. This superbly produced volume of almost 800 pages and some 339 images other than those of the emblems, takes the reader to the heart of the literary, artistic, and religious culture of baroque Europe.

Table of Contents

Introduction (John W. O'Malley, S.J. [Georgetown University])

The Imago: Context, Contents, and Controversy (John W. O'Malley, S.J. [Georgetown University])

"The Frontispiece and Opening Emblem of the Imago: A Translation" (Michael C. J. Putnam [Brown University])

"Classicism and the Baroque: The Imago primi saeculi and Its Detractors" (Marc Fumaroli [l'Académie Française]; translation by Paul J. Young [Georgetown University])

"Jesuit Uses of Art in the Province of Flanders" (Jeffrey Muller [Brown University])

"The Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesu as Emblematic Self-Presentation and Commitment" (Marc Van Vaeck, Toon Van Houdt, and Lien Roggen [Katholieke Universiteit Leuven])

"Introductions to the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew Poetry" (Michael C. J. Putnam [Brown University], Alexander Sens, and James P. M. Walsh [Georgetown University])

"The Emblems" (translated by Michael C. J. Putnam [Latin], Alexander Sens [Greek], and James P. M. Walsh, S.J. [Hebrew])

Appendix: Jesuit Provinces and Houses, 1626, 1640



John W. O'Malley, S.J., is University Professor in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University, and the editor of the "Early Modern Catholicism and the Visual Arts Series," published by Saint Joseph's University Press, Philadelphia.


"John O'Malley, his fellow authors, Saint Joseph's University Press, and several institutional and private donors who helped bear the publication costs have brought the Imago back to life with this equally large and handsome volume, accompanied by a CD that also reproduces the emblems. . . . Overall, this is an immensely learned and handsome book. The reproduction of the emblems, the English translations of the poems, and the scholarship of the contributors should bring this rich example of Baroque culture to many scholars."

Paul F. Grendler (University of Toronto), Sixteenth Century Journal

"This mighty folio is another triumph for St. Joseph's University Press in their continuing series of richly illustrated books offering informed analysis of the great cultural achievements of the pre-suppression Society of Jesus, especially those in the visual arts. . . . After [a] comprehensive sequence of introductory essays, the images themselves are reproduced—the standard of reproduction, as always with this publisher, is impeccable—with their original texts laid out as in the 1640 publication, but rendered into readable, often elegant, English. Thus the modern reader can reproduce without linguistic obstacle, the experience of the seventeenth-century reader, absorbing text and image as a single and integrated artwork. The fascination of the experience is not easily explained: it is a kind of modest time-travel to focus intensely on an art-form and style which were cultivated with utter seriousness by the most cultivated minds of early modern Europe and, in yet another context, to marvel at the range, reach and achievement of the Society of Jesus."

Peter Davidson (Campion Hall, Oxford), The Way

"John W. O'Malley, S.J., has gathered together an august group of scholars to create a volume worthy of its illustrious predecessor by focusing on the Imago's emblems as a lens through which to understand the book's significance. . . . The present volume honors the original Latin version of the Imago with a magisterial (at almost 800 pages) folio facsimile critical edition and translation of the complete set of emblems by Michael C.J. Putnam from the Latin, Alexander Sens from the Greek, and James P.M. Walsh, S.J., from the Hebrew. It includes a DVD with high-resolution reproductions that will allow a new generation to have the experience of engaging with the emblems directly themselves. . . . Readers should not be deterred by the weight, size or number of pages of this magnificent volume; it is an essential addition for every Jesuitica collection."

Mia M. Mochizuki, (New York University Abu Dhabi / Institute of Fine Arts, New York University), Journal of Jesuit Studies

"Art, Controversy, and the Jesuits: The Imago Primi Saeculi (1640) . . . will appeal not only to historians and students of religion, but also to those art historians fascinated by the Jesuit artistic language, including the rich symbolism found, for example, in its emblems. . . . Altogether, the book . . . is a worthy study of 'unquestionably one of the most impressive emblem books ever published.'"

Print Quarterly

"Art, Controversy, and the Jesuits, astonishing as it may seem, has the distinction of being the first monograph closely to examine the Imago's composite format and method of argumentation, as well as its genesis and raison d'être. O'Malley's edited volume does justice to the scope and ambition of the Imago and, more than this, brilliantly explicates the structural components and variegated modalities that make the book such an arresting epitome of Jesuit image-making ad centesimam anniversariam."

Walter S. Melion (Emory University), Renaissance Quarterly

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