Art of the Gesù: Bernini and his Age

FAIRFIELD—The Fairfield University Art Museum is presenting a major international loan exhibition “The Holy Name, Art of the Gesù: Bernini and his Age,” which will be on view in the museum’s Bellarmine Hall Galleries from February 1 through May 19, 2018. Its focus is the Church of the Gesù in Rome, the mother church of the Jesuits.

The Art of the Gesù exhibition, which coincides with Fairfield University’s 75th anniversary, features masterpieces from the Gesù itself, never before seen in America, including the great Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s marble bust of Jesuit theologian Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino (Robert Bellarmine is the patron saint of Fairfield University), and Gaulli’s monumental painted wood model of the apse, in addition to more than forty paintings, sculptures, objects, drawings, prints and illustrated books by Bernini, Gaulli, Ciro Ferri, Carlo Maratti and Fra Andrea Pozzo, among others, from museums and private collections around the country.

Together these masterpieces tell the fascinating and interwoven stories of the Church’s early history and splendid interior decorations, and the foundational chapters of the Society of Jesus: the long and at times challenging campaign undertaken by the Jesuits and their patrons to build the Gesù, a monument to the power and prestige of the new religious order and the militant Church reborn, and embellish its austere and barren interior, and the imperative to formulate a new imagery exalting the order’s founders, Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier, following their canonization in 1622.

This landmark exhibition will give visitors to the museum an unparalleled window onto the extraordinary works of art found within the walls of the Gesù, the immensely talented artists who created them, and the powerful and strong-willed personalities whose ambitions, and financial means, made it all possible.

Distinguished scholars serving on the exhibition planning committee include Professor John O’Malley, SJ, of the Department of Theology at Georgetown University, and Philippe de Montebello, director emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is honorary chair of the exhibition committee.

(The Holy Name—Art of the Gesù: Bernini and his Age will come to Fairfield University Art Museum Bellarmine Hall Galleries from February 1-May 19. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am-4 pm, while the university is in session. For a short promotional clip by Philippe de Montebello, see