|Giuseppe Bezzuoli 1784 – 13 September 1855|
Saint Thomas More hears his death sentence
We do not see the handsome and vigorous More of the paintings of Holbein the Younger.Idle Speculations has more about Giuseppe Bezzuoli and his times, More and his times, and conscience in our time.
We see a man who has been in confinement in the Tower to wear him down over a very long period. The authorities played "Cat and Mouse" to wear down his resolve and resolution.
They intended to break him. The King`s will was to be done. The monarch was quite convinced of his correctness and rectitude. He would not brook any disobedience.
More stands alone in defence of his conscience. Outwardly you might think that by his appearance and surroundings the convicted man appears vanquished. Outwardly the King appears to have triumphed over his supposed opponent.
From Bezzuoli`s composition, we do not see the political ideologue buoyed by a sense of self-righteousness. we see a man who must have repeated often the words of Scripture during his ordeal:
"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."In the end he persevered and More has obeyed his conscience and saved his Soul
Why did Bezzuoli not make the work into a painting ? Perhaps in his day the subject would have been too controversial and subject to misinterpretation.
The Bonapartes were dethroned from the Grand Duchy adter the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The old regine was re installed. Italian Unification was in the ascendant. Cavour, Mazzini, Garibaldi, the anti-clericals Liberals and the other mixed assortments were members of the broad Coalition which favoured Unification.
What the Church and other religious authorities meant by "Conscience" was entirely different from what "Conscience" meant when used in philosophical and political circles.
The confusion is still very much apparent today.
It is a good time to contemplate all these things as we pray, fast, sacrifice, and serve in the cause of our Fortnight of Freedom.