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AN INSIGHT INTO JESUIT ICONOGRAPHY. PROBLEMS OF RESEARCH REGARDING LATVIAN VISUAL ARTS HERITAGE (Ieskats Jezuitu ordena ikonografija. Latvijas telotajas makslas piemineklu izpetes probliematika)

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Members of Societas Jesu, active in the territory of Latvia from 1582 to 1820, have left significant heritage pertaining to Latvian visual arts. As their influence spread in the area of present Latvia, Jesuits have brought ideas that synchronised with European spiritual life after the Council of Trent. As commissioners and collectors of artworks, members of Societas Jesu have enriched the Latvian cultural space both artistically and ideologically; their contribution shows in the way reflection, prayer and spiritual experience is related to the image of the saint represented in artworks. So far representations of five Jesuit saints in different kinds of art (painting, sculpture and graphics) are known in Latvia. These are: Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Francis Jerome, Stanislaus Kostka and Aloysius Gonzaga. It is interesting to note that Jesuit saints are current long after the society has quitted its activities (for example, Ignatius Loyola's image painted in RogaiZi Chapel, Riga St. Francis' Catholic Church, sculptures of Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier in Indrica Church). This shows that Jesuit ideas had taken roots in the local milieu and acquired actual power transcending that of the narrow aims and needs of a particular organisation. Still this phenomenon (chronological shifts in the dating of work depicting Jesuit saints) causes additional problems for researchers. The artistic level of these examples is very unbalanced. The artists' professional skill and ability to navigate European artistic samples largely influence the later problems of attributing works. Surely the most helpful aid is inscriptions included in artworks that explain what is depicted. Inscriptions are found, for example, on Stanislaus Kostka's image on the procession flag in Brunava Catholic Church, Ignatius Loyola depicted in Rogaizi Chapel, etc.
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  • Kristine Ogle, Latvian Academy of Art, Kalpaka bulvaris 13, Riga LV-1867, Latvia
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