Propaganda fidei

Art as a means of teaching faith


The Counter-Reformation not only extends to church interiors, where great altarpieces help instruct the people. Numerous small-sized paintings are also intended to help spread the substance of the faith in the home. They are ideally suited for internalizing the church’s teachings. and are often painted according to graphic templates. Thus, the Counter-Reformation finds its way into new collectors’ galleries. It instructs the elites how to live a life pleasing to God. The contemplation of art becomes a form of meditation. What is needed are topics from the life of Christ and the saints, inciting viewers to immerse themselves into His suffering and dying. Penitent saints such as Mary Magdalene become role models. Religious devotion shapes everyday life of the upper class in many places. Intense piety should offer a refuge from outward distress.


St Mary Magdalene

David Teniers the Younger

In its constant struggle against laxity and secularisation, the Counter-Reformation came to see a reinvigorated role model in the type of the selfless ascetic with his “joyful penitence”. Believers were expected to emulate their religious devotion and intense piety.  more...

Alte Galerie, Schloss Eggenberg

Eggenberger Allee 90
8020 Graz, Österreich
T +43-316/8017-9560


Opening Hours

1 November to 17 December only with guided tour by prior appointment
April to October Tue-Sun, public holidays 10am-6pm 

Opening Hours Library
Tues–Fri 10am–12pm and afternoons by appointment only


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