This collection examines how the Society of Jesus used art and architecture in its missionary efforts in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown from the sixteenth century to the eighteenth. The Jesuits used a variety of visual media to re-invigorate the cult of miraculous images, saints, and local Catholic customs in the Central European region, where a tradition of religious dissent went back to the legendary Hussites of the 15th century. Jesuit art is seen as resulting from the transfer, local adaptation, and visualization of ideas about image theology, the order's global mission, its self-promotion, and the construction of the religious past. Examining the architecture, statues, images, murals, and decorative programs of Jesuit complexes and other visual media (devotional prints, medieval images), the essays here demonstrate how the Jesuit Order cultivated the subjects and functions of art to promote concepts of Catholic piety as they grew into one of the most successful agents of Catholic Reform in the Bohemian kingdom.
Kateřina Horníčková is senior researcher and assistant professor of art history at Palacký University Olomouc.
Michal Šroněk is professor in the Department of Art History and deputy director of the Institute of Art and Culture at the University of South Bohemia České Budějovice.
Introduction: The Jesuits and the Visual Arts in the Czechlands, Michal Šroněk
Chronology, Michal Šroněk
Chapter 1: The Church that Žižka Destroyed : The First Jesuit Churches in the Czech Lands, Ondřej Jakubec
Chapter 2: Marian Columns from Rome to Central Europe: The Transfer of the Symbolic Triumph, Michal Šroněk
Chapter 3: Devotional Image Series in Jesuit Missions: On the Early Modern Multiplication of the Image, Michal Šroněk and Kateřina Horníčková
Chapter 4: A Unique Sign of True Faith. Medieval Marian Images and the Jesuit Construction of the Past, Kateřina Horníčková
Chapter 5: Salus Populi Romani: The Roman Palladium of the Jesuit Church in Brno, Martin Deutsch
Chapter 6: Jesuit saints in the Czech Lands: Cultic Staging of Religious Images in Jesuit Churches, Štěpán Vácha
Chapter 7: From Visible to Invisible: Visualising Catholic Dogma in Jesuit Churches, Katrin Sterba
Chapter 8: Rivality and Inspiration. The Jesuits and Other Religious Orders in the Czech Lands after 1620, Martin Mádl
This book offers a fascinating, wide-ranging, and beautifully researched examination of how the Society of Jesus creatively and flexibly wielded art in its efforts to strengthen the Catholic Church and convert Protestants in Bohemia. The essays insightfully explore the rich and often contentious historical contexts of Bohemia’s early modern religious and cultural landscape.
Collectively, the Jesuits were the most critical agents of change in the Catholic transformation of Bohemia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This team of accomplished scholars sheds an important light on the visual strategies adopted by the order in their quest to reestablish the Roman faith in the Czech lands. As such it offers essential insights not just for Bohemia but the broader process of Catholic Reform in Central Europe and across the early modern world.