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Chapter 3— Faith, Good Works, and the Catholic Reformation
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Chapter 3—
Faith, Good Works, and the Catholic Reformation

The part played by the Virtues in the Grimaldi Chapel program—both their prominence and Giambologna's portrayal of them—merits attention. As personifications of abstract concepts the Virtues embodied good works and were also intended to inspire a chain of associations in the penitent, who would presumably meditate on them to find the Christian path to eternal life. According to Catholic doctrine Christ's Passion connects the virtues and salvation. Humankind's only hope for salvation lay in Christ's atonement at the Crucifixion. This he accomplished because he possessed every virtue and could therefore triumph over vice. Many medieval texts dealt with the virtues, typically pairing them with their corresponding vices.[1] But as early as Giovanni Pisano's tomb of Margaret of Brabant, queen of Luxembourg, in San Francesco di Castelletto (1312–13) the virtues appear in tomb sculpture without the vices.[2]

Christian preoccupation with salvation, both on the part of individuals and in official church circles, was not new to the sixteenth century but became more pronounced at the time of the Reformation. A major controversy between Catholics and Protestants concerned the means to achieve the salvation fervently sought by all. Early in the century, in sermons, letters, and tracts, Martin Luther initiated the battle, declaring vehemently that salvation was attainable through faith alone, that is, through the passive acceptance of God's grace. While not denying the beneficial effects of good works during life, Luther nevertheless believed that individuals could not actively achieve their own salvation.


Throughout the century the dispute continued, with learned men from both sides eloquently arguing their viewpoints. The Book of Regensburg of 1541, an attempt to reconcile the opposing sides, failed.[3] It was obvious that the church could not remain united. The beginning of the Council of Trent in 1545 only gave official recognition to this irrevocable split. At the same time, movements within the Catholic church itself reaffirmed and strengthened just such traditional beliefs as the value of good works. The most influential of these resulted in the formation of the Society of Jesus, which was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540; in the reforming crusade of the Jesuits an active spiritual life, involving good works, figured heavily. Ignatius of Loyola had worked out a whole program of religious exercises, published in 1548 as The Spiritual Exercises , so practical that all Christians could use them as a help to salvation.

Good works are the outward manifestation of inner virtues, argue the Catholics. The presence in the Grimaldi Chapel of the Virtues as well as the Passion cycle reflects both the timely concerns of the Council of Trent, which renewed the medieval link between the virtues and Christ's Passion, and a long tradition in tomb iconography. Although Virtues themselves are not remarkable in a funerary context, their combination with a Passion cycle, as I mentioned in Chapter 2, is highly unusual.

Furthermore, they rarely appear as monumental, fully independent statues that happen to stand in niches, as in the Grimaldi Chapel. More commonly, statues of saints and/or prophets occupy such niches, as in Giambologna's Salviati Chapel in Florence. Two other instances, however, of the Virtues' appearing in a similar setting are the Del Monte Chapel in Rome of the early 1550s (Fig. 28), which includes Justice and Religion, and the Lercari Chapel of the 1560s in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, Genoa (Fig. 30). In the Lercari Chapel the three theological Virtues plus Prudence flank paintings simulating sarcophagi with seated effigies. As I have mentioned, Luca Grimaldi surely took note of this chapel belonging to a fellow aristocrat and prominently situated immediately adjacent to the choir of the Genoese cathedral. Luca Cambiaso's involvement included at least the statue of Prudence.[4] In no other respect, however, does the Grimaldi program resemble the Marian program of the Lercari, which includes frescoes of the Marriage and Purification of the Virgin.

By the end of the sixteenth century, the inclusion of Virtues in tomb monuments, though not as monumental freestanding statues, was a


well-established tradition in Italy and northern Europe, so that their appearance in Luca Grimaldi's chapel is not surprising. In Italy, from the late Middle Ages on, many tombs included Virtues, usually as under-life-size niche figures in wall tombs. Virtues are found as integral parts of the program on such royal tombs as those built in the fourteenth century for the Anjou family in Naples by Tino di Camaino.[5] They are also found on such tombs of saints as that of Saint Dominic in San Domenico Maggiore in Bologna, sculpted in the thirteenth century.[6] By the Renaissance they appear on the tombs of powerful church figures: Pollaiuolo's for Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII, where the Virtues are sculpted in relief, and Andrea Sansovino's for Cardinals Basso and Sforza (Fig. 38).[7]

The custom of placing Virtues on the tombs of rulers, saints, and churchmen was not confined to Italy. Royal tombs in France and the Low Countries often included Virtues. Two prominent examples are the Giustis' tomb of Louis XII and his wife Anne (1515–31) in Saint-Denis, Paris, and Jean Mone's tomb for Wilhelm of Croy in Héverlé (1520s). Virtues continued to be a prominent feature of tomb programs in both Italy and northern Europe throughout the sixteenth century and well into the seventeenth.[8]

While tradition may partially account for the Virtues in the Grimaldi Chapel, the doctrinal beliefs and practices codified at the Council of Trent relate more directly to their inclusion there. At the sixth session of the Council of Trent, in 1547, virtues and the concept of good works figured prominently in the same decree on justification that stressed the Passion. As I have already mentioned, the battle between Catholics and Protestants over what constituted justification was one of the most fiercely fought of the whole Reformation. The Protestants' belief in justification by faith, if allowed to take hold, would have undermined and abolished many of the basic practices of the Catholic church.[9] The Council of Trent, consequently, undertook the urgent task of clarifying and reasserting the basic tenet.

The decree in which this was accomplished states that the presence of the virtues of faith, hope, and charity is one sign of a spiritual state worthy of justification:

Man through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives in that justification, together with the remission of sins, all these infused at the same time, namely, faith, hope and charity. For faith, unless hope and charity be


added to it, neither unites man perfectly with Christ nor makes him a living member of His body. For which reason it is most truly said that faith without works is dead.[10]

Specifying the crucial role of virtues and good works in justification, the decree also states:

Having, therefore, been thus justified and made the friends and domestics of God, advancing from virtue to virtue, they are renewed, as the Apostle says, day by day, that is, mortifying the members of their flesh, and presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification, they, through the observance of the commandments of God and the Church, through faith cooperating with good works, increase in that justice received through grace of Christ and are further justified, as it is written: He that is just, let him be justified still; and, Be not afraid to be justified even unto death; and again, Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?[11]

Finally, elaborating on the importance of good works as concrete manifestations of virtue, the decree says:

Therefore, to men justified in this manner, whether they have preserved uninterruptedly the grace received or recovered it when lost, are to be pointed out the words of the Apostle: "Abound in every good work, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. For God is not unjust, that he should forget your work, and the love which you have shown in his name"; and, "Do not lose your confidence, which hath great reward." Hence, to those who work well "unto the end" and trust in God, eternal life is to be offered, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus, and as a reward promised by God himself, to be faithfully given to their good works and merits.[12]

In addition to its concern with justification, however, the council, at its fourteenth session, in 1551, reaffirmed the sacrament of penance as necessary for salvation, a doctrine that had featured prominently at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, a time when the church was also under pressure from heretical groups. Each communicant had to prepare to receive the sacrament of penance. Preachers helping their congregations with this preparation used manuals of instruction that explicitly linked both the theological and the cardinal virtues to salvation.[13]


Promoting and elaborating on Tridentine decrees, in this case on the role of sacred images, Gabriele Paleotti, one of the leaders of the Catholic Reformation, declared that the representation of the virtues, which come from the perfection of the Christian life, was secondary only to the representation of religious and sacred things.[14] He went on to recommend that artists wishing to represent the virtues look both at how respected writers represented them and at how saints and other persons exemplified them.

Tridentine thought not only influenced the selection of the Passion cycle and determined the inclusion of Virtues in the Grimaldi Chapel but also provided a textual source, the catechism of 1566, that joined these two elements:

In the Passion alone, we have the most illustrious example of the exercise of every virtue. Patience, and humility, and exalted charity, and meekness, and obedience, and unshaken firmness of soul not only in suffering for justice-sake, but also in meeting death, are so conspicuous in the suffering Saviour, that we may truly say, that, on the day of his Passion alone, he offered, in his own person, a living exemplification of all the moral precepts, which he inculcated during the entire time of his public ministry.[15]

This catechism, produced under the direct order of Pius V, was the first of its kind and served as the primer for communicants everywhere. Its contents were to be memorized by all good Catholics. The relationship between the virtues and Christ's Passion that it suggests reveals the mode of thinking from which the Grimaldi program sprang, although it establishes no specific connection between individual virtues and events in the Passion story. Other sources from the Middle Ages similarly link the virtues with the Passion. Saint Anselm, for example, said that the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the virtues emanating from them could not be attained by humankind except through the merits of Christ's Passion.[16] And medieval artists illustrated the Christian cardinal virtues, derived from Cicero, by joining them to scenes of Christ's Passion.[17]

Luca Grimaldi was attuned to this Tridentine spirit in giving prominent place to the Virtues in his chapel. He might even have devised its program. A silver medal made in his honor attests to his intellectual accomplishments: on one side is his bust with "Lucas Grimaldi an. aet. suae XXVII" (Luca Grimaldi at the age of twenty-seven), and on the


other are two birds flying in a woods with the words "Hoc me Dirigite in lucos" (By means of this, direct me into the groves).[18] The two orations delivered when Grimaldi became doge of Genoa in 1605 illustrate the preeminence of the virtues in his society. Their panegyric character does not diminish their usefulness as indicators of contemporary attitudes. They fall into the genre of epideictic rhetoric used for special public occasions such as funerals of eminent people and coronations.[19] Part of Renaissance humanism's revival of ancient rhetoric, this type of oratory was designed to inspire in listeners both an appreciation of the individual being eulogized and a commitment to their own moral improvement. References to specific deeds and events in the person's life as well as to history were essential ingredients of this oratory; in such a context virtues figured heavily. The orations of Boggiano and Negrone exhibit these characteristics. They praise Grimaldi as an exemplar, a man blessed with every virtue. And they invoke specific instances to demonstrate their points.

Giovanni Giorgio Boggiano, who held doctorates in both philosophy and medicine, begins his oration in the Senate chamber by hailing the Republic of Genoa as a new Jerusalem, whose citizens enjoy liberty and, like their rulers, put the good of the Republic first. The exemplary behavior exhibited by the Genoese, who care for the physical as well as the spiritual lives of all citizens, is manifest in tangible ways: in the many superb palaces, churches, and other public buildings of the city.[20] Naturally, this extraordinarily upright state is governed by an equally moral prince: the new doge, Luca Grimaldi. Boggiano emphasizes the distinguished manner in which Grimaldi and his relatives and antecedents have served the Genoese republic. The rest of the oration enumerates and elaborates on Grimaldi's many virtues: humility, charity, courage, wisdom, justice, temperance, and piety. To demonstrate his charity and courage Boggiano cites an example from the plague in 1577, when Grimaldi, as commissioner of health, devoted all his energy to protecting those not stricken and healing those who fell ill.[21] To do this, Boggiano tells us, Grimaldi, at the risk of his own life, ventured into the plague-stricken city. Justice, too, figures heavily in Boggiano's speech, which praises Grimaldi's prodigious talents in settling disputes, in public as well as in private, calling him "our Solomon." Grimaldi's piety and faith, according to Boggiano, were manifest in the frequency with which he took the sacraments of penance and the Holy Eucharist.

Giulio Negrone, the Jesuit who delivered the much longer oration in the cathedral the day after the coronation, devotes his entire speech to


the virtues; he defines those needed by a good prince and praises Grimaldi for possessing them.[22] At the beginning Negrone mentions liberality, magnificence, and religion, defining Grimaldi's liberality as his successful handling of his inherited wealth, his achievement of a perfect balance between generosity and vigilance. The highest praise, however, goes to Grimaldi as patron of the chapel in San Francesco, for it demonstrates the depth of his faith and his magnificence, setting an example that stimulated other wealthy Genoese to construct chapels equally resplendent.

To match the splendor of the Grimaldi Chapel, however, would have been hard, if not impossible, for bronze, the medium of the Grimaldi sculptures, was highly prized and difficult to cast. No earlier chapels of comparable richness existed in Genoa. Only three even approached the sumptuousness of the Grimaldi: the fifteenth-century Chapel of Saint John the Baptist in the cathedral, commissioned by the city government rather than by a private patron; the main chapel in San Matteo, commissioned from Montorsoli by the Doria family in the 1540s; and the Lercari Chapel (Fig. 30) in the cathedral, commissioned from Bernardo Castello in 1565.[23] None of them contained bronzes.

Negrone, frequently summoning the authority of Aristotle, treats at some length the elements both of justice, particularly its administration, and of temperance required for good government. He sees the doge, in all his actions carried out for the good of the Republic, as the "lieutenant of God."[24]

Many sources other than the orations link Luca Grimaldi's name to the chapel he built. Genealogical records, chronicles, and guidebooks attest to its fame and leave no doubt that Grimaldi, though a man of distinguished civic accomplishments, preferred to be remembered as the pious and generous patron of the Chapel of the Holy Cross in San Francesco.[25] Given the role the virtues played in Tridentine doctrine, subsequently promulgated throughout the church, and their vital part in spiritual life, it seems safe to say that they were represented in the Grimaldi Chapel as a deliberate statement on Grimaldi's part: to demonstrate his orthodoxy by testifying to his belief that the good works he performed during his earthly life qualified him for the life to come.

As figural sculpture the Grimaldi Virtues represent a new genre in Giambologna's oeuvre. Until this time, his female statues had been almost exclusively nude figures of the antique Venus type; exceptions include his 1578 Charity , modeled in stucco for the doorway of the retrochoir of Santissima Annunziata opposite Giambologna's future fu-


neral chapel, and a civic Prudence in terracotta, made for the 1565 wedding festivities of Francesco de' Medici and Giovanna of Austria.[26] After making the six robed female religious works for Grimaldi, Giambologna never did any more. All his other religious statues were male figures. Thirty years before the Grimaldi commission, when he was still an apprentice, Giambologna became well acquainted with Du Broeucq's Virtue statues for the jubé , in Sainte-Waudru in Mons.[27] But subsequently he had matured in Italy, where his figural work shows that he absorbed the lessons of antique sculpture as well as the work of Michelangelo, Andrea and Jacopo Sansovino, Raphael, and Andrea del Sarto.[28] In Michelangelo's works he found tension and energy to enliven his figures. And as a balance to these qualities he found grace and ease of contrapposto in the work of the Sansovinos, Raphael, and Andrea del Sarto.

For the major religious commission of the Grimaldi Chapel Giambologna adapted and modified his familiar elegant female type: the Virtues' faces are almost indistinguishable from one another, but the figures are individualized through posture, gesture, drapery, and attributes. As in all his figural works, an imaginary spiral core of varying tautness, in harmony here with the character of each Virtue, operates as the motivating force. This is elaborated by the gestures and drapery of each figure. Thus Charity (Plate 4) stands so as to enclose the rambunctious infant she holds on her left hip, while turning her head to her right to include the standing child who clings to her right hand and hip. But Charity 's traits of magnanimity and abundance are best transmitted by her richly complex drapery, which falls smoothly to reveal her thighs, bunches up around her hips and pelvic area, and cuts a great swath over her right shoulder, falling in a wide cascade down her back. Hope 's (Plate 2) feverish yearning is vividly conveyed not only by her clasped hands and upturned head but even more by the way the drapery on her right side seems swept up by some ineluctable force, all the more noticeable in contrast to that on her left side, which falls in relatively straight, undisturbed folds. Portrayed as a young female warrior, unarmed but helmeted, Fortitude (Plate 6) wears a short pleated skirt with the lion skin of Hercules thrown over her left shoulder. She stands in a relaxed contrapposto but alert to her environment. Justice (Fig. 4), viewed from the front, looks far more militant than Fortitude , for she is armed with a sword and wears a cuirass. But from her left side Justice appears the most static of the Virtues, holding her scales against her hip, with drapery falling in heavy layered folds from her shoulder to the floor. Temperance


(Plate 5), the perfect embodiment of balance, is conceived in a relaxed contrapposto S curve, her ample drapery clinging to her breasts, stomach, and legs to reveal this stance. Generous folds of drapery loop over her chest and shoulder, around her hips, and from her high waistband, falling in several tiers down her back. Although stately in mien, Giambologna's Temperance , by comparison with Cambiaso's severe, columnar Prudence in the Lercari Chapel (Fig. 30), exhibits a springy contrapposto that activates the figure. Both statues are clearly inspired by classical precedents, but the ponderous contrapposto and heavy voluminous drapery of the Cambiaso create a severity markedly different from the suave, slender Grimaldi figure, whose drapery so clearly defines her posture and enhances the impression that even though a niche figure, she is freestanding.

Giambologna's statues, infused with a vitality that produces a vivid sense of each virtue, served as meditational aids. As personifications of complex abstractions, they mediated between the worshiper and the goal of salvation. Fortitude, for instance, was thought to include magnanimity, constancy, trust, confidence, patience, and perseverance. The prayerful contemplation of the image of Fortitude not only brought courage to mind but activated the chain of its associated aspects; a series of meditational exercises enabled the worshiper eventually to reach the desired penitential state. As "corporeal similitudes," in the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas, these personifications of virtues impress on the memory the qualities the Christian must continually strive to attain. Whereas narrative scenes, inspired by Prudentius's Psychomachia , representing the conflict and triumph of the Virtues over the Vices, were common in the Middle Ages, personifications of the concepts without narrative became customary in the later Middle Ages and after. They allowed for a wider range of meanings than could be associated with a literal battle scene.[29]

Although the inclusion of the Virtues in the chapel can thus be accounted for, some details of their representation are puzzling. Customarily Fortitude, not Justice, wears a cuirass. Giambologna must have been familiar with another example where Justice is similarly armored—for instance, Bronzino's Innocence tapestry, designed in 1544 for Cosimo de' Medici.[30] Here, she swoops down, scales in one hand, sword in the other, to rescue Innocence. Conceivably, the Grimaldi Justice wears the cuirass to stress her militant defense of the law, a theme heavily accentuated in Negrone's oration.[31] Other attributes of Giam-


bologna's Virtues are unusual as well. Bury's suggestion that Pierio Valeriano's De Hieroglyphica , first published in Basel in 1556, was the source for these unusual additions, which include the laurel of Charity, the poppies of Justice, the skull of Fortitude, and the figs, reins, ruler, and lamb of Temperance, seems reasonable, but other sources may also have played a part,[32] as the combination of traditional and unusual attributes suggests. Valeriano's compilation of the emblematic tradition is comprehensive, but surely the programmer of the Grimaldi Chapel had access to other texts as well. Grimaldi's own impresa, "Hoc me Dirigite in lucos," comes from the same eclectic tradition as Valeriano's. And Negrone plays on Luca's name when speaking of the illustrious Grimaldi family, saying, "Che per mezo di un LUCA si facesse lucente, e luminosa, & a questo modo . . . fusse cristallo."[33]

Whatever sources were gleaned for the Virtues in the chapel program, they represented Luca Grimaldi's hope that his endeavors during his earthly life had made him ready to receive the reward of eternal life. They not only perpetuate a tradition in funeral iconography but also refer more precisely to the importance of good works reaffirmed by the Council of Trent and embraced by Grimaldi himself. Justification was necessary for salvation, but as the decree stated, "Faith without works is dead."[34] Complementary to the Virtues, the Passion cycle, discussed in the chapter that follows, represented the promise of salvation through Christ's sacrifice on the cross.


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Chapter 3— Faith, Good Works, and the Catholic Reformation
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