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Fellow (1 February 2009 - 30 June 2009)
During my fellowship, I studied the question: what kind of imagery did the Council of Trent envision when, in 1563, it decreed that religious images should move the faithful 'to adore and love God and cultivate piety'? I conclude that there has never been a clear answer. Artists were strongly advised to avoid subjects that depart from the text of the Bible or from the teachings of the Church, and to refrain from excessive artistry and unnecessary embellishments. But they were not provided with any positive guidelines. All the Church recommended was that artists lead a Christian life and be devout believers themselves. Within this framework, it promoted the example of the 15th century painter Fra Angelico: not because his work was considered to meet 16th century artistic standards, but to demonstrate that only artists with sincere feelings can elicit appropriate emotions from observers.
I also worked on the question, how the monuments on the tombs of church dignitaries in Rome functioned as instruments for meditation.
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