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Patronage I: The Western World from Ancient Greece until 1900  
 
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Increasingly discontent with the secularism that he perceived in the Church of England, Newman converted to Catholicism in 1845. Ordained a Catholic priest in Rome in 1847, he was commissioned to found the Oratorian movement in Great Britain and Ireland. In recognition of his inspiring pastoral service, he was made a Cardinal in May, 1879.

As first rector of the new Catholic University of Dublin (appointed in 1851), Newman commissioned the University Church at Saint Stephen's Green, Dublin (1854-56) from John Hungerford Pollen (1820-1902). In many cases, Newman's plans for church buildings were restricted by limited financial resources and other factors. However, the Church of Saint Stephen's is considered a full expression of his distinctive ideas about ecclesiastical architecture.

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The lavish church was designed largely in a Byzantine style, which had been overlooked in the earlier nineteenth century as a source of architectural design in Britain and Ireland, However, it also incorporates decorative motifs, inspired by Celtic manuscripts and other sources. The interior is decorated lavishly with an arcaded gallery with screens; panels of multicolored Irish marbles; and painted canvases, based on Raphael's depictions of the Acts of the Apostles. The raised sanctuary (that is, the area around the high altar) has a semicircular apse, decorated with mosaics in the Byzantine style, and the altar is marked by an ornate baldachino.

It is widely recognized that the opulent interior space provides a physical expression of the sanctity of the Sacraments of the Catholic faith, in accord with Newman's ideas. In addition, however, the splendor of the distinctive structure might be correlated with Newman's impassioned evocations of the delights and rewards of same-sex friendships. In his writings, he frequently explained that the full richness of these relationships could be realized only in Paradise. As a space that spiritually elevated one above the realm of ordinary life and that literally constituted heaven on earth, the University Church may have provided a special realm that subliminally accorded Newman a premonition of the same-sex relationships in Paradise.

Art Collecting and the Creation of Queer Spaces

Through the collection and display of art, queer secular patrons also were able to create spaces that served to define their identities. Christina (1626-1689), Queen of Sweden (reigned 1644-1654), was one of the most significant art collectors of seventeenth-century Europe. Both her acquisitions and the display of her holdings attest to her unconventional lifestyle. Educated as a male prince, she occasionally appeared in masculine clothing, but, throughout her life and recorded in numerous paintings, she most often chose to wear idiosyncratic combinations of male and female clothing. In a portrait of 1660 (Statens Porträttsamling, Gripsholm), for example, the Danish artist Wolfgang Heimbach showed her clad in a male jacket and shirt; a short, but distinctly feminine, skirt; and male stockings and shoes.

As queen, Christina was a progressive and effective leader, but her refusal to marry (and produce an heir) eventually alienated her from many of her subjects. On June 6, 1654, she renounced the throne; on October 20, she converted to Catholicism in Brussels.

Moving to Rome in 1655, she immediately was hailed by Pope Alexander VII as an inspirational model of pious faith, but her indecorous behavior inhibited attempts to exploit her conversion for propaganda.

In Rome, Christina took up residence in the Palazzo Riario, which quickly became a lively center of intellectual discussion. She closely supervised the decoration of the palace--selecting paintings for this purpose from the Swedish royal collection and supplementing these with new acquisitions. Her collection was considered notorious because it included so many sensual paintings of female nudes, for example, Correggio's Leda and the Swan (now in Gemäldegalerie, Berlin) and Veronese's Venus Mourning the Death of Adonis (now in Nationalmuseum, Stockholm).

After her abdication, Christina's acquisitions of works by contemporary artists were limited by policies set by the Swedish government, which funded most of her expenditures. (Generally, it was felt that paintings by dead artists with established reputations constituted a better investment than works by living individuals.) However, Christina did manage to acquire several paintings by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Battista, 1591-1666), who probably shared her commitment to same-sex relationships.

On her way to Rome in 1655, Christina paid homage to Guercino by making a special trip to Bologna in order to visit his studio. Paintings by Guercino in her collection included the Cimmerian Sibyl (now Nationalmuseum, Stockholm). This heroic depiction of a prophetess certainly would have appealed to Christina, who considered herself an advanced thinker.

In commenting on her collection, most historians have insisted that it did not reflect her own sexual inclinations, and they have devised convoluted and unconvincing theories to account for her choices. Thus, it has been suggested that she was simply imitating male patterns and that the erotic nudes by Correggio, Veronese, and other artists represented temptations, over which she, as a virtuous woman, easily triumphed. (Of course, the latter theory would only make sense if she were tempted by the images.) Like Christina herself, her collection defied restrictive conventions and articulated alternative constructions of gender and sexuality.

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