Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Art for an Antipope: Patronage at the Court of Clement VII (1378–1394)
by Monti, Elizabeth, Ph.D., New York University, 2013, 642; 3591325
Abstract (Summary)

Clement VII, elected in 1378, is best known as the first schismatic Pope, competing for control of the church with Urban VI in Rome. Although one might expect his architectural patronage and manuscript production to express the fraught circumstances of the papacy, they primarily reflect the local history of the papacy's century-long sojourn in Avignon, and the international character of the papal court.

A thousand year-old tradition had forged a strong spiritual link between the city of Rome and the authority of the Catholic Church. However, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, political turmoil in Rome led the papacy to spend increasingly long periods outside the city. While the first Avignon pope, John XXII, endowed several churches and monasteries serving the local populace, subsequent popes focused their efforts on the massive Papal Palace. Clement VII returned to a policy of architectural patronage addressing the surrounding city. This change was clearly tied to Clement's efforts to express his legitimacy as the head of the Latin Church. One of his major architectural projects, the church of St. Peter Celestine, transformed the grave of a local saint into a major pilgrimage site. The other, the Cluniac monastery of St. Martial, promoted a Gallic saint as a local version of St. Peter, whose body was buried in Rome. This monastery also reinforced the papacy's links with its greatest ally, the French monarchy.

Manuscript production at Clement's court combines elements of French, Italian, Spanish, Bohemian, and English traditions. It is an example, not of the French "International Style," but of a genuinely international style corresponding to the international character of the Avignon papal court. This hybrid character has presented a recurrent problem for art historians accustomed to "national" styles.

Despite Clement's image as military leader, elected Pope for purely political reasons, the manuscripts he commissioned reveal a man of serious devotion. Although Clement himself drafted an influential prayer for the resolution of the Schism, explicit references to the Schism are notably limited in his devotional manuscripts. Clement's claims to spiritual and political authority are instead expressed by veiled and sophisticated allusions, textual and figurative.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Alexander, Jonathan J. G.
School: New York University
Department: Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history
Keywords: Antipope, Clement VII, Pope, Manuscripts, Patronage
Publication Number: 3591325
ISBN: 978-1-303-31890-0
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