The theatre of the Church
Illusion tricks both the eyes and the ears to make artworks the more effective and powerful.
The rhetorical language of posture, gesture and expression, which was well known from theatre and the art of illusion that was used to create mystic, eternal or supra-natural worlds, dominated the religious architecture and imagery of the Baroque. Illusion tricks both the eyes and the ears to make artworks the more effective and powerful, absorbing the viewer into the artwork and inviting participation in the scene itself, even into stories from the Bible. A church altar can be viewed as a frozen theatrum sacrum (sacra rappresentazione), opening up as a monumental, mystic theatrical stage in front of the faithful, who, invited to enter the scene, then become part of the dramatic moment in order to express and deepen their faith.
The main altar, general view
Bom Jesus Church, Bom Jesus de Braga Sanctuary (Bom Jesus do Monte)
Braga, Braga, Portugal
Design and models of the figures: Manuel Joaquim Álvares de Sousa; figures executed by João Monteiro da Rocha; canopy designed by Carlos Amarante and executed by Master Woodcarver José Francisco Moreira Torres
The main altar of the church portrays the strong theatrical effects of light, scenery and perspective.