New Book | Images on a Mission in Early Modern Kongo and Angola

Posted in books by Editor on January 24, 2023

From Penn State UP:

Cécile Fromont, Images on a Mission in Early Modern Kongo and Angola (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2022), 336 pages, ISBN: 978-0271092188, $110. Also available as an ebook.

Early modern central Africa comes to life in an extraordinary atlas of vivid watercolors and drawings that Italian Capuchin Franciscans, veterans of Kongo and Angola missions, composed between 1650 and 1750 for the training of future missionaries. These ‘practical guides’ present the intricacies of the natural, social, and religious environment of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century west-central Africa and outline the primarily visual catechization methods the friars devised for the region. Images on a Mission in Early Modern Kongo and Angola brings this overlooked visual corpus to public and scholarly attention.

This beautifully illustrated book includes full-color reproductions of all the images in the atlas, in conjunction with rarely seen related material gathered from collections and archives around the world. Taking a bold new approach to the study of early modern global interactions, art historian Cecile Fromont demonstrates how visual creations such as the Capuchin vignettes, though European in form and crafstmanship, emerged not from a single perspective but rather from cross-cultural interaction. Fromont models a fresh way to think about images created across cultures, highlighting the formative role that cultural encounter itself played in their conception, execution, and modes of operation. Centering Africa and Africans, and with ramifications on four continents, Fromont’s decolonial history profoundly transforms our understanding of the early modern world. It will be of substantial interest to specialists in early modern studies, art history, and religion.

Cécile Fromont is Professor in the History of Art department at Yale University. She is the author of the award-winning book The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo (2014) and the editor of Afro-Catholic Festivals in the Americas: Performance, Representation, and the Making of Black Atlantic Traditions (2019), the latter also published by Penn State University Press.


List of Illustrations
List of Tables

1  ‘Nonsense’: Capuchin Images of Kongo and Angola Against Italian Preconceptions
2  Practical Guides to the Mission: The Capuchin Central-African Corpus
3  Images and Devotion
4  Images as Method
5  Images against Idolatry
6  With ‘the Consent of the People, and the Secular Arm of the Prince’
7  Penned by Encounter: Capuchins, Central Africans, and the Making of a Cross-Cultural Discourse


Call for Papers | Arts and Culture in the Capuchin Order

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 24, 2023

From ArtHist.net:

De habitudine Ordinis ad artem: Arts, Religion, and Culture in the Capuchin Order between the 16th and 18th Centuries
University of Teramo, 12–14 April 2023

Proposals due by 19 February 2023

Officially founded in 1528 with the bull Religionis Zelus by Pope Clement VII, the Order of the Friars Minor Capuchin lived the twenty years preceding the Council of Trent imitating St Francis and his first companions through preaching and the teaching of young people. Despite the escape to Switzerland of the famous Vicar and preacher Bernardino Ochino in 1542, the Order survived, and the Council of Trent (1547–63) gave great impetus to the Order’s spread, thanks partly to the participation of the Vicar General Bernardino da Asti as consultant. In 1574 Pope Gregory XIII allowed the Capuchins to found convents outside the Italian peninsula. Friars went to France, Spain, and the German-speaking regions; and new settlements were founded in Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Bohemia, Bavaria, Westphalia, and Ireland. A century after their founding, the Capuchins had more than 40 provinces, 1200 friaries, and nearly 20,000 brothers. As missionaries, the Order was extremely active, evangelizing throughout the world; from Northern Europe to Brazil, from Congo to the Middle East, from North Africa to the West Indies, they were one of the main players, in close contact with sovereigns and the Holy See.

While many Capuchins had studied the visuals arts before entering the Order, especially in the years between 1618 and 1761, the Capuchin way of life was often antithetical to artistic practice. In fact, in the General Chapter of 1627, friars were forbidden to accept any painting or carving work requested by laymen. And yet, although the culture of the arts was not originally part of the Order’s activities and artistic practice was in many cases hindered, there were many who reached high levels in the cloister, especially in painting and wooden sculpture. During the 17th and 18th centuries, many Capuchins devoted themselves to painting, driven by different motivations: for pleasure and in response to commissions from nobles and benefactors. Sculpture was practised even more frequently, often for decorating the small churches that, according to the Constitutions, were not allowed to be sumptuous, but decorated only with poor and simple ornaments. The right combination of simplicity of material and preciousness of form was expressed in the works of the friar cabinet-makers (marangoni).

While numerous studies have addressed the relationship between the arts and the Capuchin Order, many questions remain under unexplored. This conference De habitudine Ordinis ad artem: Arts, Religion and Culture in the Capuchin Order between the 16th and 18th Centuries—organised by the University of Teramo with the patronage of the Seraphic Province of the Immaculate Conception of the Capuchin Friars Minor, the International Society of Franciscan Studies, and the Capuchin Historical Institute—will consider the difficult and elusive relationship between art, culture, religion, and the Capuchin Order on an international level, with particular attention paid to historical contexts and religious dimensions—a prerequisite for understanding Capuchin artists, the production of art objects, patronage, and Capuchin relations with the secular world globally. With the aim of fostering discussion and scientific debate, other topics relevant to the theme of the conference are also welcome. The most significant contributions will be considered for publication.

The conference will be divided into five sessions:
• the Capuchin Order in the context of the post-Tridentine Church
• artistic practice between norms, prohibitions, and customs
• cultural objects of the Capuchin world: use and circulation
• capuchin patronage
• images, knowledge, and preaching between devotion and catechesis

Each proposal must consist of two parts: the paper abstract (max 2000 characters including spaces) and a speaker profile (max 1500 characters including spaces) highlighting the curriculum vitae and professional position. The two parts must be combined in a single Word or PDF file. Interested parties must submit proposals by 19 February 2023, by uploading the documents here.

Scientific Committee
Massimo Carlo Giannini (University of Teramo) president
Raffaella Morselli (University of Teramo)
Alessandro Zuccari (Sapienza University of Rome)
Giorgio Fossaluzza (University of Verona)
Vincenzo Criscuolo (Capuchin Historical Institute)
Grado Giovanni Merlo (University of Milan)
Luigi Pellegrini (University of Chieti-Pescara)
Luca Siracusano (University of Teramo)
Cecilia Paolini (University of Teramo)

Organisation and scientific coordination
Pietro Costantini, pcostantini@unite.it

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