Friday, July 05, 2013

The Pope and the Ambassador

Benedetto Luti (1666–1724)
Pius V and the Ambassador of the King of Poland
Black and red chalk, brush and brown wash, highlighted with white
15-7/16 x 21-3/4 in. (39.2 x 55.2 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This is a modello of a now lost work which originally hung in the Palazzo Albane delle Quattro Fontane in Rome

It was commissioned by the Master General of the Dominican Order Father Jean Francois Antonin Cloche (1628 - 1720)  He was Master of the Order for 34 years

Although an ascetic he did act as a grand seigneur and was a great patron of the arts in Rome

The commission was to commemorate the canonisation of the Dominican Pope and Saint, Saint Pope Pius V (Michele Ghislieri) which took place in 1712

It was a gift for the then Pope Clement XI (of the Albani family)

Pius V ruled from 1559 to 1565 and the picture depicts an event in that time occurring in St Peter`s Square during the construction of the new Basilica

The King of Poland at the time was Sigismund II Augustus I, the last of the Jagiellons without whom Catholicism would not be the same in Poland today as it is. He allowed the Jesuits into Poland in 1564 

The Jesuits and the Dominicans were the main Catholic reformers in Poland at the time

Both Pius V and the King died in 1572

The picture represents an apocryphal tale from the life of the Pope about whom many tales were told of miracles occurring even when he was still alive

While walking in the Vatican Piazza, which is built on the site of the ancient Circus of Nero, he was reminded of the martyrs who had suffered on that very site. He took up a handful of dust  and put the dust into a cloth which the Ambassador of Poland, who was with him, held out to receive it. 

When the Ambassador opened the cloth, after returning to his house, he found it all saturated with blood, and the dust had disappeared. 

A charming story but  legend