Giovanni Battista Gaulli: The Triumph of the Sacred Name of Jesus (1676–1679)

(Church of the Gesù, Rome, Italy)

This is a piece by the Italian master Giovanni Battista Gaulli (1639-1709), also known as 'il Baciccio' or 'Baciccia'. This painting is a ceiling decoration which was commissioned for the nave of the Church of the Gesù in Rome. The entire scene is insprired by a quote in the New Testament, in the Epistle of Paul and Timothy to the Philippians: 

9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

Central in the painting is a glowing IHS (a Christogram which consists of the first 3 letters of the Greek name of Jesus -  Iota, Eta en Sigma). The glowing IHS is surrounded by a host of angels, saints and patron who bathe in the holy light. At the bottom is a group of souls of the damned - they are blinded by the divine light and are plunged into darkness, excluded from the vision of heaven that opens the ceiling to the sky above. Painting from 1676-1679.

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