chapter  4
The Image of the Pope
Pages 38

The previous discussions of portraiture, paradox and prophecy have indicated Pallavicino’s awareness of art’s close association with untruth, error and lie. As this chapter will argue, he was nonetheless imbued with the traditional conviction that the splendor of art is as desirable as necessary in the public representation of the papacy and in the celebration of religious rites. Not only did our Jesuit accept the well-honed justifications of ecclesiastical splendor, but he also understood that ornament provides crucial assistance in imprinting the historical feats and virtues of the papacy into the hearts and minds of the beholder. If Pallavicino needed to mediate two potentially contradictory aspects of art in institutional and public contexts, as a device both of representation and deception, he was less prompted by an original stance towards ecclesiastical splendor than by his own subtle examination of art’s potential dangers. The distinction between poetry and historiography, examined in Chapter 2, which Pallavicino likened to the relationship between pittura d’invenzione and portraiture, acquires new meaning here, as two possible modalities for the representation of the ruler, each with their own virtues and risks.