Artibus et Historiae no. 34 (XVII)

1996, ISSN 0391-9064

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ULRIKE MÜLLER HOFSTEDE - Pope Clement XIV: a Preacher in the Wilderness and Peacemaker? An Early Papal Monument of Antonio Canova Interpreted

Ten years after the death. of Clement XIV (1705—1774) the Franciscan order erected a monument to his memory in SS. Apostoli in Rome. The young artist Antonio Canova characterizes the statue if Clement XIV as an animated and eloquent figure, as if in the process of speaking. The Pope's outstretched right arm is unusual for papal iconography and is reminiscent of Marc Aurel's imperial gesture.

The author discusses the importance for the statue of both it and that of the pictorial tradition of John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness. She concludes that Canova sought to represent the Pope as a prophet of Christ who induces the viewer to reflect on his sins. This thesis is supported by contemporary sources and by the monument's iconography, especially the lamb beneath the sarcophagus, which is the attribute of manusuetudo and in this context that of the Pope Giovanni Ganganelli, The concept of this papal monument and the Pope's representation may be interpreted as an attempt to legitimize his pontificate and to give added importance to his person, in particular as his dissolution of the Jesuit Order came at a time when the papacy was losing much of its authority.

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