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114BOOK REVIEWS Federico Borromeo and the Ambrosiana: Art Patronage and Reform in Seventeenth-Century Milan. By Pamela M. Jones. (New York: Cambridge University Press. 1993. Pp. xiv, 386, 100 plates. $95.00). Pamela Jones has written a splendid scholarly study of Federico Borromeo (1564-1631), cardinal-archbishop of MUan and younger cousin of Saint Carlo Borromeo, who during his archiepiscopate (1595-1631) estabUshed the Ambrosiana , an art museum, Ubrary, and art studio for aspiring artists of the diocese of MUan. Borromeo's institution was unique in bringing together under one roof artists and art work for "reforming reUgious scholarship and the figurative arts in response to the decrees of the CouncU ofTrent" (p. 2). Jones's purpose is "to analyze and interpret Federico's program for the arts so as to enhance our understanding of post-Tridentine attitudes toward the style, subject matter, and functions of sacred art in Italy circa 1590 to 1630" (p. 19). She focuses on Borromeo's activities and ideas in a way that embraces both his historical and his art-historical interests. Her investigations look at "the way art and religious thought come together in Borromeo's Ambrosiana"; or,"What did Borromeo want out of sacred art, that is, what was his conception of its efficacy ?" (p. 2). Jones's subject is a significant one, for Borromeo is the first prelate in Christian tradition to conceive of creating an entire institution—not just specific works of art—to "reform art" and make it serve a specific objective. Her method, too, aUows us to foUow Borromeo Ln implementing his vision. Jones's work faUs into two parts: Part I deals comprehensively with Borromeo's Life and background, writings, and the foundation of the Ambrosian Library, Academy, and Museum; the next three chapters offer an enlightening interpretation of this material focusing on the tripartite spiritual role—"devotional, didactic, and documentary" (p. 1 1)—that art was to play. In Borromeo's spiritual conception, each aspect related closely to the others Ui its appeal to the fuU human personaUty . Part II is a richly detaUed catalogue with appendices to supplement Part I. Important here is the chronology of Borromeo's acquisitions for the Ambrosian Museum. Catalogue I lists the entirety of the pieces of art in the original Ambrosian Museum, and Catalogue II includes Borromeo's coUection of portraits of famous persons.The work also includes two appendices that include the official codicüs of 1607 and 161 1 to Borromeo's wiU, Usting the works of art donated to the Ambrosiana;Appendix III gives the 1618 donation. Readers wUl appreciate Jones's approach, which goes beyond the traditional judgment that the artistic production of the post-Tridentine era is "essentiaUy restrictive" and did Uttle more than merely respond to ecclesiastical directives for clarity and simpUcity. Jones recognizes that much more was in play: reformers , and their artists as well, pursued "richer, less monoUthic, and more threedimensional " (p. 7) goals than earUer generations of critics have acknowledged. She goes beyond the monoUthic model of the Catholic reformer directing the BOOK REVIEWS115 artist's representation of each iconographie detaü (much Like the traditional view of bibUcal inspiration). She sees artistic style as highly elusive, and the terms "natural" and "nature" richly nuanced (p. 8). Borromeo, she argues, beUeved that within each genre of painting "the character of naturaUsm should vary in accordance with the given genre being represented " (p. 8). In this way, Flemish landscape paintings at the Ambrosiana, for example, were considered as serving a reUgious mission, for they "simulate not simply the outward appearance of the subject at hand, but also its metaphysical significance" (p. 8). One central topic of Jones's study is the question of spirituaUty, or "spiritual attitude."Inspired byAlphonse Dupront,Jones speaks ofBorromeo's"optimistic spirituaUty," which emphasized "spiritual joy and increased sensuaUty" and recognized the potential of free wUl in concert with divine grace.The term is fitting . Borromeo's "Christian optimism" (p. 9) was based on the view that aU created things somehow lead one along the path of the knowledge of God and should be used tantum . . . quantum to bring us to eternal life. It is a classical view based...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 114-115
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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