Saturday April 20th 2024 : Open 10am - 5pm

Treasures

The balance

Share this page on social networks:
Prepare your visit Ticketing Future event Ferdinand Hodler, L’Unanimité © Musée d'art et d'histoire de Genève, photo: Y. Siza

Protestantism's relationship to democracy

Thursday, May 2, International Museum of the Reformation, 6:30pm (in French) Could Reformed Prot...

Registration
All events

This Calvinist caricature against the Roman Church, one of the most famous, is due to Huijch Allardt in 1562.

It responds perfectly to the principle that the image speaks to everyone, especially those who do not know how to read, and that the meaning imposes itself on everyone independently of the text. The example is quite convincing here, the legends being in Dutch. We nevertheless understand what is at stake: the triumph of the Word of God (and the reformers who advocate it) over the Catholic Church and its pomp.

Two groups of men face each other in a large room. The center is occupied by a scale with pans, one of which, loaded with a single volume, comes to the ground, next to the simply dressed men. They are calm. We immediately understand that these are the reformers and we also recognize among them Calvin in profile, calmly discussing with a somewhat rotund individual, who could represent Luther. Behind them are Melanchthon and two other reformers, placed in front of five other figures, two of whom wear large hats. Above them there are five portraits on the wall. Quite to their left, highlighted and a little isolated, is undoubtedly Théodore de Bèze, observing the scene with folded hands; although it may also be Jan Hus. He seems to have caused the scene we are witnessing. The big book in Libra is obviously the Bible, symbolizing the Word of God and doing without any adjuvant to ensure its victory.

The balance

Their counterparts dressed in Catholic priestly vestments hesitate between astonishment and agitation. Among them we can distinguish a bishop, cardinals surrounding the pope (Pius IV?) wearing his tiara and sitting under a canopy, a figure next to the bishop (perhaps the great adversary of Beza at the beginning of the 17th century, Saint Francis de Sales), and religious people. Everyone contemplates the tray loaded with symbols of the Catholic Church (the keys of Saint Peter, the pontifical tiara, a large volume referring either to the Fathers of the Church or to the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas) while two religious , one of whom is clinging to the chains holding the plate, try in vain to tilt the flail towards their side.

Martinus van Beusecom, 17th century
La Balance
© Musée historique de la Réformation, Genève

Return to collection