Decline and fall of the Roman empire (1776-88), the Byzantine achievement in art as much as in politics was generally disparaged. The Gothic Revival had not lost its inventive energy by the i890s, but the aesthetic climate was more eclectic and open to the idea of an alternative interpretation of Christian architectural history. If the details of Westminster Cathedral are predominantly Mediterranean in inspiration, their translation to a northern European setting is testimony to a more sympathetic reading of a Christian tradition which stretches beyond the confines of the nation-state and the ecclesiology of the western church.


As with architecture, religious painting remained firmly in the neo-Classical tradition in the early nineteenth century. In Catholic Europe the influence of the academies of Rome remained paramount, giving a conservative artistic focus to the religious revival of the post-Napoleonic years. While Italian religious painters who remained loyal to neo-Classical principles, such as Tom-maso Minardi (1787-1871) and Luigi Mussini (1813-88), have largely been wiped from modern histories of art, the work of their French counterparts is often regarded as anomalous. The neglected religious paintings of Jean-AugusteDominique Ingres (i780-i867) are a case in point. Ingres, who trained in Italy and had a profound admiration for the work of Raphael, was also influenced by that earlier Rome-based French master, Poussin. These influences are evident in his three major altarpieces: Christ giving the keys to St Peter, commissioned for the church of S. Trinita dei Monti in Rome in 1817; The vow of Louis XIII (1824) for the cathedral at Montauban (his birthplace); and The martyrdom of St Symphorian of 1834 for the cathedral at Autun.

It was, however, in Rome, and among another group of foreign artists, that an artistic revolt against academic convention and neo-Classical forms first became evident. Where German Protestant artists, such as Caspar David Friedrich, found a profound expression of their religious perceptions through landscape, certain of their compatriots, many of them Italian-based Catholics, sought inspiration from artistic sources which pre-dated the High Renaissance. A group of Romantically minded painters formed the 'Lukasbund' (or Guild of St Luke) in Vienna in 1809 under the influence of Wilhelm Wacken-roder's Herzensergiessungen eines kunstliebenden KlosterbrUders. Wackenroder's short book contained anecdotes from the lives of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century painters and insisted on the essentially spiritual nature of an art that flourished in an age of faith. The group moved to the secularised monastery

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