Jesuit Visual Culture and the Song nianzhu guicheng. The Annunciation as a Spiritual Meditation on the Redemptive Incarnation of Christ
Rui Oliveira Lopes (Universiti Brunei Darussalam)
This paper examines the set of fifteen prints included in the seventeenth-century Chinese text Song nianzhu guicheng. This catechism was translated by Portuguese Jesuits serving in the China mission and consists of instructions for spiritual meditation on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary. The processes of visual acculturation of Christian art will be examined in the context of the transmission of doctrine and instructions for spiritual meditation. The paper discusses the Chinese visual experience and the particular circumstances of the Catholic missions in China during and after the Nanjing persecutions. This paper demonstrates that although the illustrations of the Song nianzhu guicheng were executed and adapted by Chinese artists, the ontological principles of European Renaissance art and the precepts of Christian iconography are still a structural component in the Jesuit methods of teaching and preaching.
Keywords: Jesuits, China, engraving, Christianity, João da Rocha, Method of Praying the Rosary, Evangelicae Historiae Imagines, visual exegesis, word and image
If there were no merchants to bring from the Indies the treasures of the world, who else would take there the preachers who bring those treasures from the Heaven? The preachers bring the Gospel, and trade takes the preachers. Saint Thomas, the one who brought the Gospel from Brazil to India, when there wasn’t commerce yet, had to walk (following the tradition) over the waves, as he didn’t have anyone who could take him; and the second Apostle of the East, desiring to preach in China, had to see the preacher get in as a merchant, so that Faith had a place as a commodity (Padre António Vieira, História do Futuro, Vol. II, Cap. 6, 1718).
Se não houvesse mercadores que fossem buscar a umas e outras Índias os tesouros da terra, quem havia de passar lá os pregadores que levam os do Céu? Os pregadores levam o Evangelho, e o comércio leva os pregadores. S. Tomé, que levou do Brasil à Índia o Evangelho, quando não havia comércio, houve de caminhar (como é tradição) por cima das ondas, porque não teve quem o levasse; e o segundo Apóstolo do Oriente, querendo pregar na China, traçou que o pregador entrasse como negociante, para que a Fé tivesse lugar como mercadoria (Padre António Vieira, História do Futuro, Vol. II, Cap. 6, 1718).
In the early sixteenth century, soon after the Portuguese established their control over the most important trading ports in the Malabar Coast and Malacca, explorers such as Diogo Lopes de Sequeira started collecting information about the lands of the “Chins,” as the Chinese were often described in Portuguese documentation. Nevertheless, despite some progress in the commercial and diplomatic relations between Portuguese merchants and the Chinese mandarins, it was only after the arrival of the first European missionaries in China that the Portuguese were able to go through the rigorous imperial tributary system. Francis Xavier was the founder of the Catholic missions in China after he sailed from Goa to South China in 1552. Although Xavier never made it to the Chinese imperial court and died four months after his arrival into the Island of Shangshuan, his extraordinary missionary work across all of Asia—from Goa to Malacca, the Moluccan Islands, Japan and China—made him known as the Apostle of the East and as a cornerstone to the construction of a Christian utopia in Asia. As a Jesuit, Xavier also introduced new preaching and teaching methods which significantly progressed the spread of Christianity in India, China, and Japan, particularly during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Founded in 1540 by Ignatius of Loyola, the Society of Jesus was a religious order established for a spiritual militancy towards the defense and propagation of the faith and the progress of Christian life and doctrine worldwide. Firmly rooted in the principles defended by Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises, first published in 1548, the Jesuit methods of preaching and teaching were much more focused on a flexible instruction towards spiritual meditation leading to love for God, and not on the usual coercive and mass conversions. This attitude of tolerance and accommodation of non-European cultures opened the way to a mutual understanding and dialogue, which contributed to the general acceptance of western knowledge among the higher rank Chinese officials and the spread of Christianity among the lower class of Chinese society.
While visiting Macau in 1578, Alexandro Valignano was overseeing the Jesuit missions in Asia and realized that none of the Jesuit missionaries succeeded in establishing a mission in mainland China. Valignano immediately recognized the importance of learning to speak, read and write Chinese to expedite the spread of Christianity in China. In the following year, Valignano appointed Michele Ruggieri to lead the Jesuit missions in China. In 1582, Francesco Pasio and Matteo Ricci arrived in Macau, where they started learning the Chinese language and culture. The success of the Jesuit missions in China depended on the extraordinary knowledge of the missionaries, who, as well as being connoisseurs of the arts, and carriers of astonishing commodities such as books, paintings, and scientific instruments, were well versed in astronomy, mathematics, mechanics, cartography, and philosophy.1 As a result, the Jesuits were esteemed and often compared to Chinese literati and scholar-officials.
Well versed in the Chinese language, the Jesuits soon initiated a massive enterprise focused on the translation, printing, and circulation of western books as well as on the compilation of catechisms and other books used as a necessary aid to the spread of Christianity. The Jesuits’ new methods of preaching and teaching were also known for their extensive use of visual representation, meant to be used not only as a mnemonic technique to learn and memorize the sacred narratives from the Bible, but also as an aid for contemplation, meditation, and prayer. In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius Loyola emphasized the importance of setting the atmosphere for spiritual meditation and prayer utilizing visualization and composition of a place (composito loci).2 The Spanish Jesuit Jerome Nadal was an intimate collaborator of Loyola, and was responsible for the development of Ignatian theology and spiritual exercises, which encouraged the “application of senses” such as sight, to enhance the meditation on Jesus’ teachings.3 The visual contemplation of gospel scenes accompanied by Jesus’ words and written descriptions of his actions would become powerful instruments to convey the life and teachings of Jesus in China.4 The monumental work of Jerome Nadal entitled Evangelicae Historiae Imagines (Images of the History of the Gospel) only came to the press in 1593, thirteen years after Nadal’s death. Nadal worked alongside several artists to produce a total of 153 engravings, illustrating episodes of the gospels accompanied by Nadal’s explanatory texts and comments. Despite some fears surrounding the reaction to the Roman Inquisition and the potential accusations of iconolatry, the Jesuit missionaries in Asia were eager to get copies and use them in their preaching work. The often-cited letter addressed by Matteo Ricci to Claudio Acquaviva is very elucidative in demonstrating the expectation in the China mission about Nadal’s work. In Ricci’s words, “this work is more useful itself than the Bible since with it, we can explain by placing an image before the eyes that which we could not perhaps explain with words.”5 The Evangelicae Historiae Imagines probably became the most influential book in the Jesuit missions in India, China, Japan, and South America, widely reproduced, reinterpreted, and adapted in the form of prints, miniature paintings, mural paintings and carved devotional images.6
During the time of Matteo Ricci, the Jesuit missionaries were eager to get visual resources to use in their ministry. The majority of the artworks used by the Jesuits in the China missions were shipped from Europe or produced by local artists working under the supervision of or trained by Father Giovanni Niccolò, who was running a workshop in Japan.7 Although many of these paintings did not survive to the present, the activity of painters such as Ni Yicheng, Jacobo Niwa and You Wenhui, who worked for the China mission between 1601 and 1610, is well documented.8 The scarcity of painters and the low quality of their work, when compared with European artists, meant that the Jesuits relied heavily on the reproduction of European engravings which were widely accepted among the Chinese literati.
The earliest reproduction of European engravings representing biblical narratives in China is found in an inkstone design album compiled by Cheng Dayue, originally printed in 1605 and entitled Chengshi moyuan. Some scholars have suggested that these four prints were offered by Matteo Ricci who wrote his comments to the three biblical episodes (the fourth print represents the Virgen de la Antiqua, and is not accompanied by any text).9 Other scholars argue that there is no conclusive evidence for such a claim and suggest that Cheng Dayue may instead have acquired the prints by his own means and later asked Ricci to add his commentaries to the biblical narratives. On that occasion, Ricci may have offered the image of the Virgen de la Antiqua, which was only included in the edition of 1606.10
Although Matteo Ricci finally received a copy of the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines in 1605, early reproductions of engravings contained in Nadal’s work can be found in Method of Praying the Rosary (Song nianzhu guicheng 誦念珠規程), a Chinese catechism attributed to João da Rocha, as well as in Giulio Aleni’s Explanations on the Incarnation of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Jiangsheng chuxiang jingjie 天主降生言行纪略), printed about 1620 and 1637, respectively.11
Rather than being merely a narrative description and visual illustration of the life of Jesus, the Song nianzhu guicheng was compiled with the clear intention of using illustrations to explain and encourage meditation on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary. Based on the European prints contained in the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines, in this paper we will undertake a formal and iconographical analysis of the fifteen engravings adapted by Chinese artists to illustrate the Song nianzhu guicheng. This paper searches for meaning in medieval and renaissance exegetical texts in order to understand the intrinsic meaning of these prints by reference to their religious, artistic, social, and historical context. This paper demonstrates that the Jesuits meticulously supervised the production of the Song nianzhu guicheng, towards a compelling interplay between image and text to enhance the spiritual experience, to strengthen the faith of Chinese Christians and to encourage them to meditate on the mystery of divine love.
The Jesuit Mission in China in the early seventeenth century
The Portuguese Jesuit João da Rocha (1565–1623) was born in Lamego and ordained at the age of eighteen in Coimbra Novitiate on February 22, 1583. While he was still a novice, Rocha asked to join the missions in the East several times. The request was finally granted, and Rocha initiated his missionary journey in 1586. After arriving at Goa, he studied philosophy and later, in Macao, proceeded with his studies in theology. Around 1598, Rocha finally departed to join the China mission, where he spent the rest of his life contributing significantly to the growth of the missions in Shaoguan, Nanchang, Nanjing, and in Hangzhou, where he died in 1623, after serving in the China mission for 25 years.12
When he arrived in Nanjing around 1598, Rocha was received by Matteo Ricci and Xu Guangqi, a Chinese scholar-bureaucrat, astronomer, and mathematician who accepted baptism, becoming known as Paul. Biographical sources state that Rocha’s influence led to Xu Guangqi’s baptism in 1603.
Xu Guangqi and other high-rank Chinese officials gradually converted to Christianity and became protectors of the Jesuit missionaries, actively promoting Christianity and Western knowledge, helping in the translation of Christian texts, and publishing books in defense of Christian doctrine.13 Despite a certain level of opposition and criticism of Chinese religious traditions usually found in the texts, the Jesuit missions were progressing well during the first decade of the seventeenth century, with significant circulation of Chinese Christian texts and books of western knowledge. Imperial favor to the Jesuits’ activities in China was demonstrated by the permission granted by Wanli Emperor to obtain a burial site and a funerary eulogy for Matteo Ricci in 1610.
Although the Jesuit mission in China lost its founder, the progress in the following years under the leadership of Niccolò Longobardo was significant. However, the growth in the number of Chinese converts drew the attention of their opponents, who became more aggressive in their accusations against the Jesuits. Following the wave of persecutions of Jesuits in Japan in 1614, the Jesuit mission in China had become even more compromised. During the years of 1616 and 1623, the Jesuits became associated with the White Lotus sect. They were accused of trying to corrupt Chinese traditions with their astronomy teachings and conspiracy against the empire in secret meetings, using their knowledge to confuse people and convince them to convert. They were also accused of corrupting Confucian orthodoxy by adopting the manners and dress of the literati and even disguising their foreign identity in many of their texts.14 Shen Que, vice-minister of the Ministry of Rites in Nanjing and leader of this opposition to the Jesuit missions, claimed that the only way to restore Confucian orthodoxy was to expel the missionaries from the main cities in the Empire.
Although the China mission suffered a setback, it was not compromised. The persecution was mostly limited to Nanjing, with some priests arrested, and four of them banished to Macau.15 These events forced the Jesuits to become more discreet and more focused on “gathering on the appointed days to discuss the things of God in order to conserve themselves in the faith.”16
The Method of Praying the Rosary (Song nianzhu guicheng 誦念珠規程)
It was during this state of turmoil, between 1616 and 1623, that the Jesuits translated and printed a few catechisms in the Chinese language. Among these were the Explanation of the [Hanging] Image of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu shengxiang lueshuo 天主聖像略說),17 and the Method of Praying the Rosary (Song nianzhu guicheng 誦念珠規程)—which is appended to another catechism entitled Instructions of the Holy religion of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu shengjiao qimeng 天主聖教啟蒙).18 The Tianzhu Shengjiao qimeng and the Song nianzhu guicheng are both undated and were printed in Nanjing between 1619 and 1623. Copies of these texts are currently found in the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (ARSI, Jap. Sin. I, 43a-b), in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Chinois, 7382), the Vatican Library (Borgia Cinese 336.5), Biblioteca nazionale di Roma, and at the Getty Research Institute (1374-445).
The compilation of these two woodblock-printed texts is traditionally attributed to João da Rocha, who became the Vice-Provincial of the Jesuit Mission in China in 1619. More recently, scholars have been suggesting that other Portuguese Jesuits were also involved in the production of these catechisms, which were bound together in one volume. Gaspar Ferreira (1571–1649), Manuel Dias the Younger (1574–1659) and Francisco Furtado (1589–1653) are among the Portuguese Jesuits who were involved in the production of these catechisms.19
In the Catalogus Patrum Societas Jesu, both João da Rocha and Gaspar Ferreira are mentioned as authors of a Method of Praying the Rosary.20 Interestingly, that document states that da Rocha edited an Item de praxi recitanti Rosarium ubi explicat 5 mysteria dolorosa appositis imaginibus Christi patientis & cricifici, and Ferreira produced Meditationes de 15 Rosarii mysteriis. Ubi de Passioni Domini. Also, the volume is divided into two parts. The first part (Tianzhu shengjiao qimeng) was adapted from Marcos Jorge’s Doctrina christam by João da Rocha and revised by Gaspar Ferreira and other Jesuits, while the second part (Song nianzhu guicheng) is said to have been written by Ferreira and revised by Francisco Furtado. Therefore, as stated in the table of contents and the Catalogus Patrum Societas Jesu, Gaspar Ferreira seems to be the most probable author of the Song nianzhu guicheng, which explains in words and images the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, containing fifteen woodblock illustrations adapted by Chinese engravers based on Jeronimo Nadal’s Evangelicae Historiae Imagines.
The Song nianzhu guicheng is not an original text, but rather a Chinese translation based on a section entitled Modo de rezar, ou Rosario da gloriosa Virgem Maria N. Senhora com quinze mysterios, cinco gozosos, cinco dolorosos, & cinco gloriosos, written by Inácio Martins, S. J. (1531–1598) for the extended version of Marcos Jorge, S. J. (1524–1571) Doctrina christam [orde]nada a maneira de [dialogo], pera ensinar os meninos, published in 1592.21 The Doctrina Christam is one of the most influential works used in the missionary work in Africa, Asia, and America, being widely translated into vernacular languages throughout the seventeenth century. Editions containing the method of praying the rosary were translated to Congolese, Tupi (Brazil), Concani, Malabar, Tamil (India), Chinese and Japanese. Some of these editions followed the model of the 1592 edition, including the Song nianzhu guicheng, contained 15 illustrations accompanying the explanations of the 15 mysteries of the rosary.
The Portuguese Jesuits João da Rocha and Gaspar Ferreira used the visual repertoire from Jeronimo Nadal’s Evangelicae Historiae Imagines to illustrate the Chinese translation of the Method of Praying the Rosary. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first known use of Nadal’s work to illustrate Chinese Christian texts, followed by the well-known Giulio Aleni’s Explanations on the Incarnation of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu jiangsheng chuxiang jingjie 天主降生言行纪略), which contained a total of 56 illustrations.
While Aleni’s book attempted to summarize and illustrate the life of Jesus—that is, a synthesized version of the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines—the Method of Praying the Rosary is more related to an act of participation that seeks to establish a spiritual bond by recalling critical events in the lives of Jesus and Mary. We may therefore say that both books have distinct objectives, while the Explanations are a visual narrative of the sacred history described in the Gospels, the Method is an instrument for spiritual edification and meditation on the redemptive incarnation of the Lord. The Method provided instructions for prayer and meditation on the mysteries of the lives of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. It is intended as a devotional and practical book for meditation on the redemptive incarnation of Jesus, rather than as an educational resource about sacred history. Therefore, the illustrations were included in the book as a visual support to strengthen the worshipper’s concentration “on the central meanings and mysteries of Christian faith, as seen and experienced through the lives of a man (Jesus Christ, God’s Word made flesh [John 1.14]) and a woman (Christ’s Mother, Mary).”22
The selection of fifteen prints from Nadal’s visual repertoire corresponds to the fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary, a tradition promoted by the Dominicans during the first half of the sixteenth century but later adopted by the Jesuits. Accordingly, the illustrations in the Method of Praying the Rosary are also divided into three main sections of five illustrations each: the Joyful mysteries (Annunciation; Visitation; Nativity; Presentation of Jesus in the Temple; and Jesus among the Doctors); the Sorrowful mysteries (Christ praying in the garden of Gethsemane; Flagellation of Christ; Christ is crowned with thorns; Christ is led outside the gate to Mount Calvary; the Crucifixion of Christ), and the Glorious mysteries (The glorious resurrection of Christ; The ascension of Christ into Heaven; The holy day of Pentecost; The Assumption of the Virgin; and The Coronation of the Virgin).23
The illustrations are made by Chinese artists, who were given a certain range of freedom in their adaptation of the originals from the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines. Scholars have suggested that the Jesuits asked the famous Chinese painter, Dong Qichang, or someone in his workshop to execute the fifteen illustrations.24 The relationship between Dong Qichang and European art was pointed out by Berthold Laufer (1910, 100–118), Arthur Waley (1922, 342–343) and later by James Cahill (1982, 59–68). These scholars suggest that the Chinese painter-critic had been heavily influenced by western images after he first came across them in Nanchang in 1597. Allegedly, these images were shown by Matteo Ricci to Li Rihua, one of Dong’s best friends.25 In one of Li Rihua’s poems, mentioning the meeting with Ricci, he writes: “(…) he showed me some strange things brought from his country,” and later he added that those were “things worth adopting.”26 However, this does not mean that he was referring specifically to Christian iconography or that the illustrations in the Song nianzhu guicheng were executed by Dong Qichang or any other artist in his workshop.
When comparing the fifteen illustrations in Song nianzhu guicheng with the originals in Evangelicae Historiae Imagines, one would immediately notice that most of the Chinese prints followed the European models executed by the Wierix brothers very closely. Nevertheless, both the composition and the absence of intricate details demonstrate an evident simplification of the original models. Matteo Ricci argued that Chinese artists ignored the technique of chiaroscuro and the rules of linear perspective. As a result, their paintings are plain and straightforward in their structure. Shadow, depth, and volume impart a more dramatic and realistic atmosphere to the scene and, according to Ricci, this is lacking in the Chinese artists’ work.27 However, we must consider that Ricci was examining Chinese visual culture purely from a western aesthetics perspective, not fully grasping the theoretical framework and aesthetic principles of Chinese ink and brush painting. The illustrations in Song nianzhu guicheng stand as clear evidence of the dialogue between European and Chinese visual experience. The Chinese identity of the artists is mainly revealed in the characterization of the figures—particularly in their facial features—and the surrounding elements, such as the landscape and the architectural structures included in some of the illustrations, which are more familiar to Chinese culture and visual vocabularies.
Ten out of the fifteen illustrations in Song nianzhu guicheng are mostly simple renditions of the European models, copying faithfully the main narrative and composition while substantially reducing the number of figures, the architectural details, and the narrative sequence of the main story.28 Despite the significant similarities between the prints in the Song nianzhu guicheng and their European models, there are remarkable differences in the presentation of the scenes and the adaptation of the late Ming cultural, historical, religious and artistic contexts.
Spatial composition, continuous narrative and visual accommodation
One of the most relevant elements in the European prints, lost in the process of simplification in the Chinese prints, is the continuous narrative, a type of visual story that illustrates multiple scenes of a story in a single frame. In Nadal’s Nativity (Figure 1), the background has a series of related events, such as the Annunciation to the Shepherds and The Wise Men Following the Star. In Nadal’s Visitation (Figure 2), the central scene is surrounded by events that take place before and after the moment when Mary visits Elizabeth in the house of Zechariah. Inside the house, on the left side, the birth of John the Baptist is represented. In the aedicule at the center top shows the annunciation, through the window one can see Mary and Joseph on the way to Nazareth. And at the right of the main scene, Mary and Joseph are arriving at the house of Zechariah. The continuous narrative, which is essential in the context of spiritual instruction of the sacred narratives in Renaissance European art, is obliterated from the Chinese prints, as the repetition of the same characters in different scenes would look awkward and confusing in the context of Chinese visual culture. Instead, the Chinese artist imagined the scene from the opposite perspective, placing the viewer not inside but outside Zechariah’s house, following the Chinese pictorial tradition, in a slightly elevated and diagonal angle, typical of the representation of Chinese court life or elegant gatherings in literati gardens.29
Figure 1 Nativity, from Evangelicae historiae imagines: ex ordine euangeliorum, quae toto anno in missae sacrificio recitantur, in ordinem temporis vitae Christi digestae/auctore Hieronymo Natali Societatis Iesv theologo. Antuerpiae: [Society of Jesus], anno dñi 1593. Print on paper, Getty Institute, Accession number: 86-B24301.
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Figure 2 Visitation, from Evangelicae historiae imagines: ex ordine euangeliorum, quae toto anno in missae sacrificio recitantur, in ordinem temporis vitae Christi digestae/auctore Hieronymo Natali Societatis Iesv theologo. Antuerpiae: [Society of Jesus], anno dñi 1593. Print on paper, Getty Institute, Accession number: 86-B24301.
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In the Nativity scene in the Song nianzhu guicheng (Figure 3), only the composition of the shelter where infant Jesus was placed in a manger, the celestial cherubim, and the urbe of Bethlehem located in the far right of the main scene remain roughly as the original. A significant number of angels were not included and the main figures are dull and sinicized. The terrain is reinvented under the canon of Chinese landscape painting. The soil in the foreground draws an oblique line from the bottom left to the top right, crossed with another oblique line from right to left. The tree, added to the composition, is twisted and leaned to the right, counter-balancing the elevation of the terrain in the opposite direction.
Figure 3 Nativity, from Song nianzhu guicheng 誦念珠規程. China: (c. 1619–1623). Print on paper, Getty Institute, Accession number: 2928-787.
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The Chinese print of the Christ praying in the garden of Gethsemane (Figure 4) also demonstrates the artist’s inventiveness in his rendition of the garden in conformity with Chinese pictorial traditions. The botanical specimens that usually seduce the interest of European elites are gently converted into a composition of a landscape containing rocks and trees, recalling the ideal scene of retirement retreat pursuit by scholar-artists—standing as emblems of their character and spirit.
Figure 4 Christ praying in the garden of Gethsemane, from Song nianzhu guicheng 誦念珠規程. China: (c. 1619–1623). Print on paper, Getty Institute, Accession number: 2928-787.
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As visual representations of the sacred history—in this case, of the life and death of Jesus—the illustrations of the Song nianzhu guicheng, like those of the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines, are a form of storytelling or representation of a sequence of events unfolding over time. The depiction of a narrative that occurs in space and unfolds in time is an essential stage of the creative process. Following the tradition of European Renaissance painting, the illustrations of the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines not only unfold the narrative through a sequential visual sequence—presented in chronological order and individual plates—but also through a continuous narrative within a single frame, representing sequential scenes before and after the main scene.30 As mentioned above, none of the illustrations in the Song nianzhu guicheng include the events either preceding or subsequent to the main scene. However, the Crucifixion of Christ (Figure 5) results from the conflation of two illustrations from Nadal’s book, What happened after the raising of the cross before he hands over the spirit (Figure 7) and The handing over of His spirit (Figure 6). The merging of two or more illustrations is a common feature in Giulio Aleni’s Explanations on the Incarnation of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu jiangsheng chuxiang jingjie 天主降生言行纪略). This is explained by the fact that Aleni’s book is a summarized version of the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines, which eliminates scenes considered less relevant and conflates approximately two-thirds of the illustrations. However, the Song nianzhu guicheng is a translation of the Method of Praying the Rosary, which is related to a meditation on the mysteries of the redemptive Incarnation of Jesus, an essential Christian doctrine that explains the divine and human nature of Christ. This paper argues that the Portuguese Jesuits wanted to emphasize the importance of meditating upon the union of the divine and the human in the Person of Christ, towards a spiritual edification rather than a simpler biblical instruction. The next section of this paper demonstrates that the details of the Christian iconography and the adaptation to a Chinese setting—as represented in the Annunciation—were intended to draw the attention of the reader, and served as a guide to spiritual meditation on the redemptive Incarnation which began in the virginal womb of Mary.
Figure 5 Crucifixion, from Song nianzhu guicheng 誦念珠規程. China: (c. 1619–1623). Print on paper, Getty Institute, Accession number: 2928-787.
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Figure 6 The handing over of his spirit, from Evangelicae historiae imagines: ex ordine euangeliorum, quae toto anno in missae sacrificio recitantur, in ordinem temporis vitae Christi digestae/auctore Hieronymo Natali Societatis Iesv theologo. Antuerpiae: [Society of Jesus], anno dñi 1593. Print on paper, Getty Institute, Accession number: 86-B24301.
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Figure 7 What happened after the raising of the cross, before he hands over the spirit, from Evangelicae historiae imagines: ex ordine euangeliorum, quae toto anno in missae sacrificio recitantur, in ordinem temporis vitae Christi digestae/auctore Hieronymo Natali Societatis Iesv theologo. Antuerpiae: [Society of Jesus], anno dñi 1593. Print on paper, Getty Institute, Accession number: 86-B24301.
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The Annunciation as a visual meditation on the redemptive Incarnation of Christ
The Annunciation is not merely a representation of the moment the archangel Gabriel descends from heaven, appears to Mary and tells her that she will give birth to a son named Jesus; rather, as can be seen from Nadal’s comments in the section below the woodcut, the annunciation is the moment following the divine declaration of the Incarnation of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit (Figure 8). The apotheosis of the scene culminates with the humility of the Virgin consenting to God’s will and the Immaculate Conception.31
Figure 8 Annunciation, from Evangelicae historiae imagines: ex ordine euangeliorum, quae toto anno in missae sacrificio recitantur, in ordinem temporis vitae Christi digestae/auctore Hieronymo Natali Societatis Iesv theologo. Antuerpiae: [Society of Jesus], anno dñi 1593. Print on paper, Getty Institute, Accession number: 86-B24301.
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In the Modo de rezar, ou Rosario da gloriosa Virgem Maria N. Senhora com quinze mysterios, cinco gozosos, cinco dolorosos, & cinco gloriosos, written by Inácio Martins, S. J., the text accompanying the annunciation plate is a consideration of the annunciation and the Incarnation of Christ. The text reads:
Deos vos salve chea de graca, o Senhor e convosco. E vos annunciou como o Filho de Deos vinha a fazerse homem em vossas virginais entranhas para remedio dos homens. E vos Senhora assegurando o voto de vossa virginal pureza, com profunda humildade destes consentimento dizendo: Eis aqui a serva do Senhor, facase em mim Segundo vossa palavra.32
The text appeals to the consideration and meditation on the mysteries of the redemptive Incarnation of Christ, the moment when the Son/Word of God assumed a fully human existence to the fulfilment of men’s salvation. In the Hieronymus Wierix’s woodcut for the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines, the Virgin and the archangel are in an interior compartment. One of the walls is eliminated so the viewer can see the scene unfold inside the enclosed space where the archangel holds a white lily in his left hand and approaches the Virgin during her spiritual routine. The white lily is conventionally interpreted as a symbol of the Virgin’s purity, and the enclosed space where the scene takes place is an emblematic attribute of Mary’s immaculate conception, imagined as an enclosed garden (Hortus conclusus) in late Medieval and early Renaissance spiritual literature.33
In the extreme left section of the woodcut along the landscape is a scene of the Crucifixion and, lower to that, is Christ’s descent into the limbo. These two scenes are not represented in a continuous narrative in relation to the main scene, but as an oneiric vision of the redemptive death of Christ to save imperfect men from sin and death. Finally, in the top right corner of Wierix’s woodcut, there is a cloud in which God creates Adam, the origin of sin and death. There is antithetical parallelism between Adam and Jesus highlighted in the letters of Paul to the Corinthians and the Romans (1 Cor. 15:45; Rom. 5-12-21). Therefore, the combination of these three scenes considers a visual meditation on the creation, incarnation, and redemption as a tradition of Christian piety, in which the crucifixion or the ransom sacrifice of Jesus is the instrument of God’s will (Mark 10:45). It is through Christ’s sacrifice that a new covenant is established (Luke 22:20).
Among all fifteen prints in the Song nianzhu guicheng, the Annunciation (Figure 9), as the opening illustration, is the one in which the Chinese artist was most inventive in his adaptation to a Chinese cultural context. Mary’s interior space is presented in an upper-class Chinese house surrounded by a courtyard and a beautiful garden ornamented with scholar rocks and banana trees, as usually found in the retreat dwellings of the wealthy Chinese scholar-officials.34 The interior of the room is furnished with a rectangular carved low kang table and a square corner-leg altar table with horse-hoof shaped feet. Behind the Virgin Mary is what seems to be a Chinese landscape painting hanging in front of a low kang table, or a window open to a landscape with rocks, a tree, and mountains on the other side of a river. In the whole composition, the only similarities to the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines are the pose and gestures of Mary and Gabriel and the shaft of light with the descent of the Holy Spirit. The scenes of the Creation of Adam, the Crucifixion, Christ’s descent into the Limbo, and the Divine Declaration of the Incarnation of Christ are not included in the Song nianzhu guicheng’s Annunciation.
Figure 9 Annunciation, from Song nianzhu guicheng 誦念珠規程. China: (c. 1619–1623). Print on paper, Getty Institute, Accession number: 2928-787.
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Lin Xiaoping sees a dramatic contradiction between the Annunciation in the Song nianzhu guicheng and the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines. Lin argues that the “human realities” and the “domestic setting” are contrasting, “poverty and austerity in Nadal, versus wealth and luxury in Rocha.”35 The author relates the exotic domestic setting to “the reality of the religious life of Chinese Christian women or the aristocracy’s feminine spirituality.”36 This suggests that rather than an accurate historical representation of Mary’s social status, it represents the “gracious dignity achieved by both physical and spiritual well-being of Chinese Christian women,” of whom Xu Guangqi’s granddaughter, Madame Candide Xu, stands as a stereotype in the view of modern scholars. Understanding the Annunciation from the Song nianzhu guicheng as a simple portrait of the Chinese Christian female elite social and spiritual status ignores the importance of the Song nianzhu guicheng as a spiritual exercise and a visual aid to meditate on the redemptive Incarnation of Christ for all Christians in China.
Moreover, Lin seems to overlook the duality between realism and idealism found in the realm of European aesthetic philosophy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.37 Undoubtedly, adapting the scene to a Chinese domestic setting involved using architectural and natural elements, which were more familiar to both men and women of the Chinese Christian community. A familiar setting would work as a common ground and would avoid any distractions caused by exotic European architecture and furniture, allowing the worshipper to concentrate on the spiritual meaning of the illustration as instructed in the text. The Portuguese Jesuits, who commissioned the Chinese artist(s) to produce the illustration based on the prints from Nadal’s work, intended to facilitate the process of visualization and composition of a place for the Chinese Christian community in general, not exclusively for the female elite.
Based on the documented aversion of some Chinese officials to the lifeless image of Jesus in the crucifixion and the interpretation that he was a criminal, Lin also argues that the crucifixion in Nadal’s work was very difficult to accept. Lin concludes by noting that the elimination of the crucifixion is by no means intentional, and is explained by its historical context.38 In this case, why would Rocha include one illustration where the crucifixion is the main subject and the other four representing the Sorrowful Mysteries? Again, despite the fact that the crucifixion frequently provoked an unpleasant reaction from the converts, and especially from the officials who opposed the Jesuit missions, the elimination of the scene would introduce a significant change in the spiritual purpose of the Song nianzhu guicheng text (i.e. the spiritual and intrinsic understanding of the Rosary) and the original woodcut from the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines.
In the analysis of the Annunciation from the Song nianzhu guicheng, Lin omits what looks like a hanging scroll of a Chinese landscape painting placed on the wall behind Mary. Nonetheless, later, Paola Demattè refers to it as a screen painted with a bare landscape in the style of the fourteenth-century painter Ni Zan.39 The vertical composition is balanced by an imaginary diagonal line crossing from bottom right to top left. In the foreground, one can see a rock and a leafless tree, while in the background, there are mountains stretching along the horizon and the riverbank. Although Demattè does not mention any of Ni Zan’s paintings, the composition of the landscape shows clear similarities with some of the artist’s works, such as Six Gentlemen (1345, Shanghai Museum), Wind among the Trees on the Riverbank (1363, Metropolitan Museum of Art), and Rongxi Studio (1372, National Palace Museum).
Is this representation of a Chinese landscape an integral component in the process of visual accommodation of the Annunciation scene to the late Ming socio-cultural context? Considering the spiritual importance of the Song nianzhu guicheng in the process of meditation on the redemptive Incarnation of Christ—as well as the didactic function of the illustrations in the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines to the understanding of the gospel—it would be surprising if the crucifixion was intentionally omitted. We contend that the tree in this landscape is a symbolic representation of the crucifixion of Christ with precisely the same intrinsic meaning it had in the European print, that is, a prophetic vision of the redemptive death of Christ to save imperfect men from sin and death. The tree is cruciform-shaped, presenting a thin and vertical trunk with two branches stretching out horizontally either side of the middle point in the upper half of the trunk.
Although such a symbolic representation of the crucifixion in the background of an Annunciation painting is not common in Renaissance art, Sandro Botticelli’s Cestello Annunciation (c. 1489–1490) provides another example of such a work (Figure 10). The Cestello Annunciation was commissioned around mid-May of 1489, by Benedetto di Ser Giovanni Guardi, for his chapel in the Church of the Monastery of San Frediano a Cestello. It is now in the collections of the Galleria degli Uffizi, in Florence, and has been since 1874.
Figure 10 Sandro Botticelli, Cestello Annunciation, (c. 1489–1490), Tempera on wood, 150 × 156 cm, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Accession number: 1608.
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The Cestello Annunciation unfolds in a classicizing architectural interior in which Mary is surprised by the presence of Gabriel, who kneels towards the woman chosen by God to be the Mother of the Lord. Botticelli emphasizes the purity, chastity, and humility of Mary through her semi-circular posture, turning her body away and protecting it with both hands, demonstrating that she is evidently disturbed by Gabriel’s presence. Additionally, Mary does not look at Gabriel, but leans her head down and gazes softly at the floor. Mary’s purity and immaculate conception are symbolically represented through her cloak, which covers her body but simultaneously exposes her womb. The posture and gestures of Mary and Gabriel denote the tension of the moment, possibly the exact moment when Gabriel salutes Mary, and she replies: “How will this be performed if I do not know a man?” At last, her gaze to the floor represents Mary’s fifth laudable condition, meritatio, when she willingly accepts God’s will that she gives birth to the Christ, God Incarnate.40
The spatial composition of the painting is heavily symbolic, and Botticelli uses a set of geometric lines to divide the space between Gabriel and Mary. The weight of the composition is clearly in Gabriel’s figure and the opening to outside, through which one can see a tall tree and a landscape with two castles connected by a bridge that crosses over a river (Figure 11). The vertical lines of the floor also invite the viewer to observe the painting from right to left and to stand on the side of Gabriel. The weight is not on Gabriel’s figure alone, but also in the symbolic meaning of the landscape. In his phenomenological analysis of the Cestello Annunciation, Joseph Parry (2011, 164) sees the tree as a symbol of the death of Christ, who “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). According to Parry, “Botticelli will gesture at the pain that awaits her [Mary], as well as Him [Christ], in the Cestello Annunciation in the tree that springs from the angel’s head.”41 The author does not offer an elucidation on the symbolic meaning of the two castles connected by a bridge. The two castles are not connected yet, as the bridge is still unfinished. In our view, the tree stands between the two castles as the One who will fulfil the connection between the two castles, that is, between the old covenant and the new covenant. The new covenant is instituted through the death of Christ, who re-establishes a new relationship between God and humankind.
Figure 11 Sandro Botticelli, Cestello Annunciation (detail), (c. 1489–1490), Tempera on wood, 150 × 156 cm, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Accession number: 1608.
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The Cestello Annunciation, as well as many other paintings depicting the angelic colloquy—including either an evident or a symbolic representation of the crucifixion—demonstrates the eschatological significance of the redemptive incarnation of Christ through the representation of the beginning and the end of His human life, which made possible the salvation of humankind.
Other examples in which the tree is used as a symbolic representation of the crucifixion or the redemptive death of Christ can be found in Fra Carnevale’s Annunciation (c. 1445–1450), at the National Art Gallery in Washington; Vittore Carpaccio’s Annunciation (1504), at the Galleria Franchetti, Ca’ d’Oro, Venice (there is a cypress tree that stands taller between other trees); Francesco Francia’s Annunciation (1505), at the Pinacoteca di Brera; Fra Filippo Lippi’s Annunciation (c. 1445), at the Basilica di San Lorenzo; Piermatteo d’Amelia’s Annunciation (c. 1487), at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston; the Umbrian Annunciation (late fifteenth century), at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; the Andrea Solari’s Annunciation (1506), at the Louvre Museum; and a folio of the Annunciation from an illuminated manuscript by Taddeo Crivelli (c. 1469), at the Getty Museum. According to George Ferguson, oak trees stand as a symbol of Christ and Mary, the cypress is associated with death, and the cedar tree, based on Song of Solomon 5:15, is a symbol of Christ.42
Based on the writings of Alberti (On Painting) and Nicholas of Cusa (Vision of God), Charles H. Carman discusses what he calls a shared epistemology of vision in Italian Renaissance painting in which linear perspective, illusionistic images and a series of visual metaphors are used to stimulate an intellectual perception of the divine, essential, and unseen realities.43 In this context, “walls, doors, gates, as well as elements like gold and even forms in nature such as clouds, trees, and especially the flower take a metaphorical meaning.”44 Referring to these visual metaphors in his analysis of the Annunciation painted by Piermatteo d’Amelia, Carman states that “our gaze moves explicitly through an open doorway supported by clear indications of a brick wall to find the point of converging at a single flourishing tree – the lignum vitae, or Tree of Life.”45
Then, Carman recalls that the tree of life as a symbolic representation of the redemptive death of Christ is found in Bonaventura’s Tree of Life, a work designed as an aid of memory “to cultivate devotion and to foster the piety of faith based in meditation on the life and death of Christ.”46 Bonaventure imagines Christ as the fruit “that took its origin from the Virgin’s womb and reached its savoury maturity on the tree of the cross.”47
A few centuries later, Nicholas of Cusa makes use of the same metaphor in his seminal work De Visione Dei (Vision of God), completed in 1453. Nicholas of Cusa identifies Christ as the Tree of Life. As he explains, it is only through the fruit of the Christ that one can nourish the hope of salvation:
O good Jesus, You are the Tree of Life in the Paradise of delights. For no one can be nourished by the desirable Life except from Your fruit. You, O Jesus, are the food forbidden to all the sons of Adam, who, expelled from Paradise, seek in the earth, wherein they labour, their means of life.48
Both Bonaventure and Nicholas of Cusa were influential figures to the shaping of modern Christian devotion as well as a textual source for European artists during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.49 Relating text and image, Bonaventure and Nicholas of Cusa provide a vast repertoire of metaphors, parables, and other forms of illustrations that were appropriated by Renaissance artists and patrons resulting in the enrichment of visual memory and the creation of new symbolic meanings. European missionaries such as the Portuguese Jesuits involved in the production of many illustrated catechisms and spiritual manuscripts—used for the instruction and edification of faith in China and other parts of the world—were undoubtedly familiar with such important symbolic meanings.
The use of illustrated manuscripts in the Jesuit missions in China and other parts of Asia was fundamental not only for the instruction of native converts but also to the consolidation of faith through a process of visual meditation and spiritual exercises. The portability of illustrated books, the possibilities of reproduction, and the combination of text and image in the same media offered an effective means of spiritual education. The illustrations contained in the Song nianzhu guicheng are a clear example of the Jesuit strategy of accommodation, combining the Renaissance modes of visual persuasion with the Chinese formalistic conventions. The intrinsic meaning and iconographical significance incorporated into the illustrations demonstrate the leading role of Rocha and Ferreira in providing detailed content guidelines to the Chinese artists to convey the doctrinal essence of the mystery of the rosary.
Following the prototype from Nadal’s Evangelicae Historiae Imagines, it is clear that João da Rocha and Gaspar Ferreira deliberately included the crucifixion scene in the Annunciation print of the Song nianzhu guicheng, through a symbolic representation of a tree of life in a Chinese landscape. This intentional symbolic representation of Christ’s redemptive incarnation in the annunciation scene is corroborated with the conflation of two scenes in the Crucifixion. It is also substantiated by the nature and purpose of the catechism in the context of consolidation of faith among the Chinese Christian community during the turmoil period between 1616 and 1623. As mentioned by Francisco Furtado in his annual letter of 1625, that was a period for the Christian community to focus on “gathering on the appointed days to discuss the things of God in order to conserve themselves in the faith.”50
1 Qichen Huang, “Macau, Ponte de Intercâmbio Cultural Entre a China e o Ocidente, Do Século XVI Ao Século XVIII,” Administração 2, no. 6 (1989): 611–42; David Mungello, The Great Encounter of China and the West (Lenham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999); Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Art in the Jesuit Missions in Asia and Latin America (1542-1773) (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1999); Liam Matthew Brockey, Journey to the East: Jesuit Mission to China 1579-1724 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007); Isabel Pina, Os Jesuítas Em Nanquim (1599-1633) (Lisboa: Centro Científico e Cultural de Macau, 2008); Gianni Criveller, “Jesuits’ Visual Culture Accommodated in China During the Last Decades of Ming Dynasty,” Ming Qing Studies (2010), 219–30; Eugenio Menegon, Ancestors, Virgins, & Friars: Christianity as a Local Religion in Late Imperial China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010); Leonor Diaz de Seabra, “Macau e Os Jesuítas Na China (Séculos XVI e XVII),” Historia Unisinos 15, no. 3 (2011): 417–24.
2 Ignatius Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola ed. Charles Seager. (London: Charles Dolman, 1847), 27–28; Nicolas Standaert, “The Composition of Place: Creating Space for an Encounter.” The Way 46, no. 1 (2007): 7–20.
3 Robert John Clines, By Virtue of the Senses : Ignatian Aestheticism and the Origins of Sense Application in the First Decades of the Gesù in Rome. (master’s thesis, Miami University, 2009), 29–32.
4 Nicolas Standaert, “The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola in the China Mission of the 17th and 18th Centuries,” Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu 81 (2012): 73–124; Nicolas Standaert, “Ignatian Visual Meditation in Seventeenth-Century China,” in Meditation and Culture: The Interplay of Practice and Context, ed. Halvor Eifring (London/New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), 24–35.
5 Matteo Ricci, Opere Storiche Del P. Matteo Ricci, S.I. ed. Pietro Tacchi Venturi. (Macerata: Premiato stab. tip. F. Giorgetti, 1913), 284; Pasquale Maria D’Elia, Le Origine Dell’arte Cristiana Cinese (1583-1640). (Rome: Reale Accademia d’Italia, 1939), 82.
6 John W. O’Malley, “To Travel to Any Part of the World: Jerónimo Nadal and the Jesuit Vocation.” Studies in the Spirituality of the Jesuits 16, no. 2 (1984): 1–20; Junhyoung Michael Shin, “The Reception of Evangelicae Historiae Imagines in Late Ming China: Visualizing Holy Topography in Jesuit Spirituality and Pure Land Buddhism.” The Sixteenth Century Journal 40, no. 2 (2009): 303–33; Rui Oliveira Lopes, “Arte e Alteridade: Confluências Da Arte Cristã Na Índia, Na China e No Japão, Séc. XVI a XVIII.” (Universidade de Lisboa, 2011), 254, 304, 331–342.
7 Paul Pelliot, “La Peinture et La Gravure Européennes En Chine Au Temps de Mathieu Ricci.” T’oung Pao 20 (1921): 8–9; Edward Maclagan, The Jesuits & the Great Mogul. (Gurgaon, Haryana: Vintage Books, 1990), 226; David Mungello, The Great Encounter of China and the West. (Lenham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), 28; Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Art in the Jesuit Missions in Asia and Latin America (1542-1773). (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1999), 124; Alexandra Curvelo, “Nagasaki: an European Artistic City in Early Modern Japan.” Bulletin of Portuguese - Japanese Studies, no. 2 (2001): 23–35.
8 Paul Pelliot, “La Peinture et La Gravure Européennes En Chine Au Temps de Mathieu Ricci.” T’oung Pao 20 (1921): 10–11; Michael Sullivan, “Some Possible Sources of European Influence on Late Ming and Early Ch’ing Painting,” in Proceedings of the International Symposium on Chinese Painting (Taipei: National Palace Museum, 1972), 595–625; Michael Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art (New York, NY: Graphic Society, 1973), 57; Craig Clunas, Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (London: Reaktion Books, 1997), 175–6; David Mungello The Great Encounter of China and the West. (Lenham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), 42; César Guillen-Nuñez, Macau’s Church of Saint Paul: A Glimmer of the Baroque in China (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2009), 114–15; César Guillen-Nuñez, “The Portrait of Matteo Ricci.” Journal of Jesuit Studies 1, no. 3 (2014): 443–64.
9 Berthold Laufer, “Christian Art in China.” Ostasiatische Studien 13 (1910): 7; Michael Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art (New York: Graphic Society, 1973), 52–3; Ta Hsiang, “European Influences on Chinese Art in the Later Ming and Early Ch’ing Period.” Renditions 6 (1976): 152–178; Jonathan Spence, The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (New York: Penguin Books, 1985), 59–64; Harrie Vanderstappen, “Chinese Art and the Jesuits in Peking,” in East Meets West: The Jesuits in China, 1582-1773, edited by Charles Ronan and Bonnie Oh (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1988), 103–26; Carmen Guarino, “Images of Jesus in Chengshi Moyuan,” in The Chinese Face of Jesus Christ. Vol. 2, edited by Roman Malek (Sankt Augustin Institut Monumenta Serica, 2003), 417–36.
10 Li-Chiang Lin, “The Proliferation of Images: The Ink-Stick Designs and the Printing of the ‘Fang-Shih Mo-P’u’ and the ‘Ch’Eng-Shih Mo-Yuan’.” (PhD dissertation, Princeton University, 1998), 202–4; Rui Oliveira Lopes, “Words for Images and Images for Words: An Iconological and Scriptural Study of the Christian Prints in the Chengshi Moyuan.” Word and Image 33, no. 1 (2017): 87–107.
11 The authorship of the Song nianzhu guicheng is complex although most scholars attribute it to João da Rocha. However, other Portuguese Jesuits were also involved in the production of this and another catechism entitled Tianzhu Shengjiao Qimeng (Instructions of the Holy religion of the Lord of Heaven). These two texts were bound together in one volume. Gaspar Ferreira (1571–1649), Manuel Dias, the Younger (1574–1659) and Francisco Furtado (1589–1653) are some of the Portuguese Jesuits involved in the production of these catechisms (Paola Demattè and Marcia Reed, China on Paper. European and Chinese Works from the Late Sixteenth to the Early Nineteenth Century (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2007), 167–9. Paul Rheinbay, “Nadal’s Religious Iconography Reinterpreted by Aleni for China,” in Scholar from the West: Giulio Aleni S.J. (1582-1649) and the Dialogue between Christianity and China, ed. Tiziana Lippiello and Roman Malek (Brescia: Fondazione civiltà bresciana/Monumenta Serica Monograph Series, 1997); Junhyoung Michael Shin, “The Reception of Evangelicae Historiae Imagines in Late Ming China: Visualizing Holy Topography in Jesuit Spirituality and Pure Land Buddhism,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 40, no. 2 (2009): 303–33; José Eugenio Borao Mateo, “La Versión China de La Obra Ilustrada de Jerónimo Nadal Evangelicae Historiae Imagines,” Goya: Revista de Arte, no. 330 (2010): 16–33; Junhyoung Michael Shin, “Jesuit Mnemonics and Topographic Narrative: Evangelicae Historiae Imagines in Late Ming China (Fuzhou, 1637),” Archiv Für Reformationsgeschichte, no. 103 (2012): 237–71.
12 Catalogus Patrum Societas Jesu, Qui Post Obitum S. Francisci Xaverii Primo Saeculo, Sive Ab Anno 1581. Usque Ad 1681, in Imperio Sinarum Jesu-Christi Fidem Propagarunt 1686, 8–9; Diogo Barbosa Machado, Bibliotheca Lusitana Historica, Critica, e Cronologica. Na Qual Se Comprehende a Noticia Dos Authores Portuguezes, e Das Obras, Que Compuseraõ Desde o Tempo Da Promulgação Da Ley Da Graça Até o Tempo Prezente. Tomo II (Lisboa: Officina de Ignacio Rodrigues, 1741), 736.
13 Liam Matthew Brockey, Journey to the East: Jesuit Mission to China 1579-1724 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 58–9.
14 David Mungello, The Great Encounter of China and the West (Lenham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), 43–4; Liam Matthew Brockey, Journey to the East: Jesuit Mission to China 1579-1724 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 68.
15 Álvaro Semedo, The History of That Great and Renowned Monarchy of China. Wherein All the Particular Provinces Are Accurately Described: As Also the Dispositions, Manners, Learning, Lawes, Militia, Government, and Religion of the People. Together with the Traffick and Co (London: Printed by E. Tyler for I. Crook, 1655).
16 Francisco Furtado, China’s Annual Letter for 1624, BA 49-V-6, fl. 180r).
17 This text is traditionally attributed to Xu Guangqi and an anonymous Jesuit, eventually, João da Rocha, Pedro Ribeiro, and Domingos Mendes, mentioned in 1619 editions (Ad Dudink “The Image of Xu Guangqi as Author of Christian Texts: a Biographical Appraisal),” in Statecraft and Intellectual Renewal in the Late Ming: The Cross-Cultural Synthesis of Xu Guangqi (1562-1633), edited by Catherine Jami, Peter Engelfriet, and Gregory Blue (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 99–152.
18 Manuel Cadafaz de Matos, “A Entrada Do Pe. João Da Rocha Na China Em 1597-1598 e a Contribuição Deste Jesuíta Para a História Da Imprensa Cristã,” Revista Portuguesa de História Do Livro, no. 2 (1997): 69–88.
19 Paola Demattè and Marcia Reed, China on Paper. European and Chinese Works from the Late Sixteenth to the Early Nineteenth Century (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2007), 167–9.
20 Catalogus Patrum Societas Jesu, Qui Post Obitum S. Francisci Xaverii Primo Saeculo, Sive Ab Anno 1581. Usque Ad 1681, in Imperio Sinarum Jesu-Christi Fidem Propagarunt 1686, 9–11.
21 Jorge Marcos and Ignacio Martins, Doctrina Christam Ordenada a Maneira de Dialogo, Pera Ensinar Os Meninos, ed. Marti[m] Ferna[n]dez (Lisboa: Manoel de Lyra, 1592). Marcos Jorge’s famous Doctrina christam [orde]nada a maneira de [dialogo], pera ensinar os meninos was originally published in 1566. Inácio Martins’s additions may have been prepared around 1586/1587, but the earliest copy that is known, dated 1592, is found in the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Fondo Antiguo BH FLL 19646). See José Adriano de Freitas Carvalho Poesia e Hagiografia. Porto: Centro Inter-Universitario de Historia da Espiritualidade (Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto, 2007), 82.
22 Nathan Mitchell, The Mystery of the Rosary: Marian Devotion and the Reinvention of Catholicism (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 3.
23 Joao Rocha, Song nianzhu guicheng (China, 1619).
24 David Mungello, The Great Encounter of China and the West (Lenham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), 31.
25 Berthold Laufer, “Christian Art in China.” Ostasiatische Studien 13 (1910): 100–18; Arthur Waley, “Ricci and Tung Chʻi-Chʻang.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 2, no. 02 (February 24, 1922): 342–343; James Cahill, The Compelling Image: Nature and Style in Seventeenth‐century Chinese Painting (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), 59–68.
26 Richard Barnhart, “Dong Qichang and Western Learning: A Hypothesis in Honour of James Cahill.” Archives of Asian Art 50 (1998): 7–16.
27 Matteo Ricci, Opere Storiche Del P. Matteo Ricci, S.I. Edited by Pietro Tacchi Venturi. (Macerata: Premiato stab. tip. F. Giorgetti, 1913), 284.
28 These illustrations are: Presentation in the Temple; Jesus among the Doctors; Flagellation of Christ; Christ is crowned with thorns; Christ is led outside the gate to Mount Calvary; The glorious resurrection of Christ; The ascension of Christ into Heaven; The holy day of Pentecost; The Assumption of the Virgin; and The Coronation of the Virgin.
29 Craig Clunas, Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (London: Reaktion Books, 1997).
30 Keith Christiansen, “Early Renaissance Narrative Painting in Italy,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61, no. 2 (1983): 3–48; Charles Hope, “Religious Narrative in Renaissance Art,” Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 134, no. 5364 (1986): 804–18; Lew Andrews, Story and Space in Renaissance Art. The Rebirth of Continuous Narrative (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1998).
31 Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988).
32 Jorge Marcos and Ignacio Martins, Doctrina Christam Ordenada a Maneira de Dialogo, Pera Ensinar Os Meninos, ed. Marti[m] Ferna[n]dez (Lisbon: Manoel de Lyra, 1592), 182.
33 Gertrud Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, vol. 1 (Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society, 1971); Bryan E. Daley, “The ‘Closed Garden’ and the ‘Sealed Fountain’: Song of Songs 4:12 in the Late Medieval Iconography of Mary,” in Medieval Gardens, ed. Elisabeth Blair MacDougall (Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, Harvard University, 1986), 253–78; Matthew Landrus, “Leonardo’s Annunciation Hortus Conclusus and Its Reflexive Intent,” in Gardens and the Passion for the Infinite, ed. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (Springer, 2003), 25–46; Victoria Larson, “A Rose Blooms in the Winter: The Tradition of the Hortus Conclusus and Its Significance as a Devotional Emblem,” Dialog 52, no. 4 (2013): 303–12.
34 Craig Clunas, Fruitful Sites. Garden Culture in Ming Dynasty China (London: Reaktion Books, 1996).
35 Xiaoping Lin “Seeing the Place: The Virgin Mary in a Chinese Lady’s Inner Chamber,” in Early Modern Catholicism: Essays in Honour of John W. O’Malley, S.J., edited by John W. O’Malley, Hilmar M. Pabel, and Kathleen M. Comerford (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), 194.
36 Xiaoping Lin “Seeing the Place: The Virgin Mary in a Chinese Lady’s Inner Chamber,” in Early Modern Catholicism: Essays in Honour of John W. O’Malley, S.J., edited by John W. O’Malley, Hilmar M. Pabel, and Kathleen M. Comerford (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), 196.
37 Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Rensselaer W. Lee, “Ut Pictura Poesis: The Humanistic Theory of Painting,” The Art Bulletin 22, no. 4 (1940): 197–269; Joanna Woods-Marsden, “‘Ritratto Al Naturale’: Questions of Realism and Idealism in Early Renaissance Portraits,” Art Journal 46, no. 3 (1987): 209–16.
38 Xiaoping Lin “Seeing the Place: The Virgin Mary in a Chinese Lady’s Inner Chamber,” in Early Modern Catholicism: Essays in Honour of John W. O’Malley, S.J., edited by John W. O’Malley, Hilmar M. Pabel, and Kathleen M. Comerford (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), 199.
39 Paola Demattè, “Christ and Confucius: Accommodating Christian and Chinese Beliefs,” in China on Paper. European and Chinese Works from the Late Sixteenth and Early Nineteenth Century, edited by Paola Demattè and Marcia Reed (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2007), 36.
40 Baxandall bases his historical, cultural and intellectual analysis of the Annunciation on a text by a fifteen-century Franciscan Friar, Fra Roberto Caracciolo da Lecce, in which he analyses the Angelic Colloquy to lay a series of five successive spiritual and mental conditions or states attributable to Mary during the Annunciation: Conturbatio (Disquiet), Cogitatio (Reflection), Interrogatio (Inquiry), Humiliatio (Submission), Meritatio (Merit). See Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 48–56.
41 Joseph D. Parry, “Phenomenological History, Freedom, and Botticelli’s Cestello Annunciation,” in Art and Phenomenology, ed. Joseph D. Parry (New York: Routledge, 2011), 164.
42 George Ferguson, Signs & Symbols in Christian Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1954).
43 Charles H. Carman, Leon Battista Alberti and Nicholas Cusanus: Towards an Epistemology of Vision for Italian Renaissance Art and Culture (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014).
44 Charles H. Carman, Leon Battista Alberti and Nicholas Cusanus: Towards an Epistemology of Vision for Italian Renaissance Art and Culture (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), 111.
45 Charles H. Carman, Leon Battista Alberti and Nicholas Cusanus: Towards an Epistemology of Vision for Italian Renaissance Art and Culture (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), 121.
46 Bonaventure, Bonaventure. The Soul’s Journey into God, The Tree of Life, The Life of St. Francis, ed. Ewert Cousins (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), 120.
47 Bonaventure, Bonaventure. The Soul’s Journey into God, The Tree of Life, The Life of St. Francis, ed. Ewert Cousins (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), 121.
48 Nicholas Cusa, Nicholas of Cusa’s Dialectical Mysticism, Text, Translation, and Interpretative Study of De Visione Dei, ed. Jasper Hopkins, 2nd Edition (Minneapolis, MN: The Arthur J. Banning Press, 1987).
49 Simona Cohen, Animals as Disguised Symbols in Renaissance Art (Leiden: Brill, 2008); Cesare Catà, “Perspicere Deum: Nicholas of Cusa and European Art of the Fifteenth Century,” Viator. Medieval and Renaissance Studies 39, no. 1 (2008): 285–305; Arianne Conty, “Absolute Art: Nicolas of Cusa’s De Visione Dei,” Religion and the Arts 16, no. 5 (2012): 461–87.
50 Francisco Furtado, China’s Annual Letter for 1624, BA 49-V-6, fl. 180r.