Lutheran art consists of all religious art produced for Lutherans and the Lutheran Churches. This includes sculpture, painting, and architecture. Artwork in the Lutheran Churches arose as a distinct marker of the faith during the Reformation era and attempted to illustrate, supplement and portray in tangible form the teachings of Lutheran theology.
Religious art or sacred art is artistic imagery using religious inspiration and motifs and is often intended to uplift the mind to the spiritual. Sacred art involves the ritual and cultic practices and practical and operative aspects of the path of the spiritual realization within the artist's religious tradition.
The Reformation was a movement within Western Christianity in 16th-century Europe that posed a religious and political challenge to the Roman Catholic church – and papal authority in particular. Although the Reformation is usually considered to have started with the publication of the Ninety-five Theses by Martin Luther in 1517, there was no schism between the Catholics and the nascent Lutheran branch until the 1521 Edict of Worms. The edict condemned Luther and officially banned citizens of the Holy Roman Empire from defending or propagating his ideas. The end of the Reformation era is disputed: it could be considered to end with the enactment of the confessions of faith which began the Age of Orthodoxy. Other suggested ending years relate to the Counter-Reformation, the Peace of Westphalia, or that it never ended since there are still Protestants today.
Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran Churches, encouraged the display of some religious imagery in churches, seeing the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a continuation of the "ancient, apostolic church".He defended the use of "importance of images as tools for instruction and aids to devotion", stating that "If it is not a sin but good to have the image of Christ in my heart, why should it be a sin to have it in my eyes?"
Martin Luther, was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.
His attitude towards images became more positive after his dispute with Andreas Karlstadt began in 1521. Luther had left Karlstadt in effective charge of his church in Wittenberg when he went into retreat in the Wartburg, but Karlstadt introduced a considerably more Radical Reformation than Luther approved, which included the removal of all religious images from churches. As with the later Calvinist programmes of complete destruction of images, this aroused more popular opposition than other aspects of the radical innovations, and Luther's support for images was in part an attempt to distinguish his positions from more radical ones, as well as an attempt to avoid stirring up opposition over an issue he did not see as central.
Andreas Rudolph Bodenstein von Karlstadt, better known as Andreas Karlstadt or Andreas Carlstadt or Karolostadt, or simply as Andreas Bodenstein, was a German Protestant theologian, University of Wittenberg chancellor, a contemporary of Martin Luther and a reformer of the early Reformation.
Wittenberg, officially Lutherstadt Wittenberg, is a town in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Wittenberg is situated on the River Elbe, 60 kilometers (37 mi) north of Leipzig and 90 kilometers (56 mi) south-west of Berlin, and has a population of 48,501 (2008).
The Wartburg is a castle originally built in the Middle Ages. It is situated on a precipice of 410 meters (1,350 ft) to the southwest of and overlooking the town of Eisenach, in the state of Thuringia, Germany. In 1999, UNESCO added Wartburg Castle to the World Heritage List. It was the home of St. Elisabeth of Hungary, the place where Martin Luther translated the New Testament of the Bible into German, the site of the Wartburg festival of 1817 and the supposed setting for the possibly legendary Sängerkrieg. It was an important inspiration for Ludwig II when he decided to build Neuschwanstein Castle. Wartburg is the most-visited tourist attraction in Thuringia after Weimar. Although the castle today still contains substantial original structures from the 12th through 15th centuries, much of the interior dates back only to the 19th century.
Luther also understood the value of crude polemical woodcuts in the propaganda battle, and commissioned some himself. He also appears to have worked personally with artists to develop didactic compositions that were used as book frontispieces, including for the Luther Bible which had an elaborate frontispiece in all early editions, prints, and relatively small versions in oils. Law and Gospel (1529) by the Lutheran painter Lucas Cranach the Elder is the earliest painting of this type,painted in different versions, and turned into a woodcut. Several share a similar composition, divided vertically into two by a tree, also found in many polemical prints; typically there is a good side and a bad side. Lutheran catechisms, an important means of disseminating Lutheran teachings among the congregations, were often illustrated with woodcuts, as were prayerbooks and other religious literature.
The Luther Bible is a German language Bible translation from Hebrew and ancient Greek by Martin Luther. The New Testament was first published in 1522 and the complete Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments with Apocrypha, in 1534. It was the first full translation of the Bible into German based mainly on the original Hebrew and Greek texts and not the Latin Vulgate translation.
A frontispiece in books is a decorative or informative illustration facing a book's title page—on the left-hand, or verso, page opposite the right-hand, or recto, page. While some books depict thematic elements, other books feature the author's portrait as the frontispiece. In medieval illuminated manuscripts, a presentation miniature showing the book or text being presented was often used as a frontispiece.
Law and Gospel is one of a number of thematically linked, allegorical panel paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder from about 1529. The paintings, intended to illustrate Lutheran ideas of salvation, are exemplars of Lutheran Merkbilder, which were simple, didactic illustrations of Christian doctrine.
In the beginning of Lutheranism's spread to German territories in the 1520s and 1530s, local ordinances set out a variety of treatments of existing imagery in churches. Where, as was sometimes the case, nothing was said, it is presumed that it was intended that many images could be retained. In the Lutheran churches of Nuremberg, for example, "side altars, sacrament houses and saints' shrines provided (and continue to provide) the visual backdrop for evangelical worship".Elsewhere, depending on the views of the ruler or council, all images were to be removed, as in Hesse in 1526, although Martin Luther objected to this decision, apparently ineffectively. Some ordinances specified that only "images near and before which particular worship and idolatry and special honour with candles and lights have been practiced" should be removed but also emphasized that "we may not be iconoclasts", in the words of a Hamburg ordinance of 1529. In Brandenburg, an injunction was pronounced to retain 'altars...images and paintings' and in Württemberg, images that were neglected or damaged were restored or replaced. The Augsburg Interim and Leipzig Interim settled the issue, both pronouncing that sacred art would be preserved in the Lutheran Churches, though they would not be the focal point of worship, thus making the Lutheran position a via media between what Lutheran theologians perceived as 'Roman Catholic idolatry' and 'Calvinist iconoclasm'.
Hesse or Hessia, officially the State of Hesse, is a federal state (Land) of the Federal Republic of Germany, with just over six million inhabitants. The state capital is Wiesbaden; the largest city is Frankfurt am Main.
Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany with a population of over 1.8 million.
Brandenburg is a state of Germany.
A few Lutheran altarpieces, including those of the Last Supper, were commissioned under the purview of Martin Luther. The Schneeberg Altarpiece was placed at the high altar of St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut and as Lutheran sacred imagery, reflected "the devotional forms of fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century northern art".The Schneeberg Altarpiece (1539), along with the Wittenberg Altarpiece (1547) and the Weimar Altarpiece (1555), were Christocentric in their iconography and "these altarpieces reinforced the key teachings of the new church and helped consolidate a sense of confessional identity." In eastern Germany, Lutheran patrons erected some thirty new altarpieces. Most pre-Reformation altarpieces were preserved within Lutheran churches as the "altar was still believed to be a particularly holy place, and should be adorned accordingly."
An altarpiece is an artwork such as a painting, sculpture or relief representing a religious subject made for placing behind the altar of a Christian church. Though most commonly used for a single work of art such as a painting or sculpture, or a set of them, the word can also be used of the whole ensemble behind an altar, otherwise known as a reredos, including what is often an elaborate frame for the central image or images. Altarpieces were one of the most important products of Christian art especially from the late Middle Ages to the era of the Counter-Reformation.
The Last Supper is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper is commemorated by Christians especially on Maundy Thursday. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "Holy Communion" or "The Lord's Supper".
St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut is a market town in central Austria, in the Salzkammergut region of Upper Austria, named after Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg.
Lutheran sacred art gained a new function in addition to exciting one's mind to thoughts of the Divine by also serving a didactic purpose.Cranach's Law and Gospel , for example, "enshrines the specific authority of the word of the Bible by including biblical passages as prominent parts of the composition." Lutheranism was responsible for "an explosion of creativity in the graphic arts" with works such as Passional Christi und Antichristi by Philipp Melanchthon, being described as "richly illustrated".
With respect to the Divine Service, "Lutheran worship became a complex ritual choreography set in a richly furnished church interior."Ornate church interiors in Lutheran churches reflected Lutheran Eucharistic theology, which taught the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist as a sacramental union. Lutheran churches, as well as homes, displayed a prominent crucifix as it highlighted their high view of the Theology of the Cross. It became a popular devotional image for Lutherans, who "prayed, meditated, and even wept before them." Thus, for Lutherans, "the Reformation renewed rather than removed the religious image."
During the Beeldenstorm or Iconoclastic Fury, bands often categorized as Calvinists violently removed sacred art from churches.Lutherans generally opposed the iconoclasm, one saying: "You black Calvinist, you give permission to smash our pictures and hack our crosses; we are going to smash you and your Calvinist priests in return". As such, Calvinist iconoclasm, "provoked reactive riots by Lutheran mobs" in Germany. Lutheran theologian and priest Johann Arndt was forced to flee Anhalt when it became Calvinist in the 1580s, due to his defense of Christian sacred art. He wrote a treatise Ikonographia, in which he criticized the Reformed faith for consecrating the Eucharistic elements on wooden tables rather than on stone altars. As Calvinism, along with its associated aniconism spread, "Lutherans responded by reaffirming their commitment to the proper use of religious images."
Artists who designed Lutheran Baroque art not only took their inspiration from Martin Luther, but from popular Lutheran piety in the latter part of the 16th and 17th centuries.The Dresden Frauenkirche serves as a prominent example of Lutheran Baroque art, which was completed in 1743 after being commissioned by the Lutheran city council of Dresden:
From the pulpit beside the entrance to the choir area the pure Word of God was preached against a truly magnificent visual backdrop. With its imposing high altar, showing in sculpted relief the emotive scene of Christ in prayer on the Mount of Olives, its splendid organ and its cupola with paintings of the evangelists and virtues by Giovanni Battista Grone, the interior of the Frauenkirche embraces illusion, even illusion dependent on the techniques of the Italian baroque. The Frauenkirche rivalled contemporary Catholic churches in its beauty and splendour and was, in fact, compared by eighteenth-century observers to St Peter’s in Rome.
In the second half of the 17th century, high baroque art continued to spread through Saxony, under the rule of Johann Georg II.Pieces like the altar of Johanneskirche resembled the Descent from the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens.
More typically, Daniel Hisgen (1733-1812) was a German painter of the rococo period who worked as a painter of Lutheran churches in Upper Hesse, specializing on cycles of paintings decorating the front of the gallery parapet in churches with an upper gallery. His discreet cycles demonstrate the modest prominence expected of Lutheran art in German churches of his day, taking a middle route between the large and prominent images in Catholic churches, and the complete absence of images in Calvinist ones.
In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, several Lutheran altarpieces were designed and housed within parish churches.Many of these were designed by artists such as Carl Bloch and Joakim Skovgaard.
With respect to artwork adorning Lutheran churches in the modern era:
Lutheran places of worship contain images and sculptures not only of Christ but also of biblical and occasionally of other saints as well as prominent decorated pulpits due to the importance of preaching, stained glass, ornate furniture, magnificent examples of traditional and modern architecture, carved or otherwise embellished altar pieces, and liberal use of candles on the altar and elsewhere.
Within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, religious artists including Arne Haugen Sørensen, Peter Brandes, Hein Heinsen and Maja Lisa Engelhardt continue to design Lutheran art today.It has been claimed that more pre-Reformation Marian altarpieces survive in German Lutheran churches than Catholic ones, where many were replaced in the Baroque period.
This article contains too many or too-lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. (May 2018)
Although some reformers, such as John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli, rejected all images, Martin Luther defended the importance of images as tools for instruction and aids to devotion.
In most Lutheran territories, however, altars and altarpieces were not only preserved, but they also continued to be used and were even commissioned anew. Lutheran commitment to the doctrine of Christ's real presence undoubtedly provides the key to understanding this visual conservatism. The altar was still believed to be a particularly holy place, and should be adorned accordingly.
As it developed in north-eastern Germany, Lutheran worship became a complex ritual choreography set in a richly furnished church interior. This much is evident from the background of an epitaph painted in 1615 by Martin Schulz, destined for the Nikolaikirche in Berlin (see Figure 5.5.).
In fact, Lutherans often justified their continued use of medieval crucifixes with the same arguments employed since the Middle Ages, as is evident from the example of the altar of the Holy Cross in the Cistercian church of Doberan.
Images also came to play a key part in the new forms of Lutheran piety promulgated during the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by figures such as Johann Arndt. The crucifix in particular became an important devotional image. Crucifixes—which had been objects of particular hatred for Calvinist iconoclasts—adorned Lutheran churches and homes, and Lutherans prayed, meditated, and even wept before them.
According to Koerner, who dwells on Lutheran art, the Reformation renewed rather than removed the religious image.
The Beeldenstorm, or Iconoclastic Fury, involved roving bands of radical Calvinists who were utterly opposed to all religious images and decorations in churches and who acted on their beliefs by storming into Catholic churches and destroying all artwork and finery.
Devoutly Catholic but opposed to Inquisition tactics, they backed William of Orange in subduing the Calvinist uprising of the Dutch beeldenstorm on behalf of regent Margaret of Parma, and had come willingly to the council at her invitation.
Iconoclastic incidents during the Calvinist 'Second Reformation' in Germany provoked reactive riots by Lutheran mobs, while Protestant image-breaking in the Baltic region deeply antagonized the neighbouring Eastern Orthodox, a group with whom reformers might have hoped to make common cause.
A crucifix is an image of Jesus on the cross, as distinct from a bare cross. The representation of Jesus himself on the cross is referred to in English as the corpus.
Iconoclasm is the social belief in the importance of the destruction of icons and other images or monuments, most frequently for religious or political reasons. People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts, a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any individual who challenges "cherished beliefs or venerated institutions on the grounds that they are erroneous or pernicious".
Beeldenstorm in Dutch, roughly translatable to "statue storm", or Bildersturm in German, also the Great Iconoclasm or Iconoclastic Fury, is a term used for outbreaks of destruction of religious images that occurred in Europe in the 16th century. During these spates of iconoclasm, Catholic art and many forms of church fittings and decoration were destroyed in unofficial or mob actions by Calvinist Protestant crowds as part of the Protestant Reformation. Most of the destruction was of art in churches and public places.
Lucas Cranach the Elder was a German Renaissance painter and printmaker in woodcut and engraving. He was court painter to the Electors of Saxony for most of his career, and is known for his portraits, both of German princes and those of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, whose cause he embraced with enthusiasm. He was a close friend of Martin Luther. Cranach also painted religious subjects, first in the Catholic tradition, and later trying to find new ways of conveying Lutheran religious concerns in art. He continued throughout his career to paint nude subjects drawn from mythology and religion.
Crypto-Calvinism is a pejorative term describing a segment of German members of the Lutheran Church accused of secretly subscribing to Calvinist doctrine of the Eucharist in the decades immediately after the death of Martin Luther in 1546.
Religious images in Christian theology have a role within the liturgical and devotional life of adherents of certain Christian denominations. The use of religious images has often been a contentious issue in Christian history. Concern over idolatry is the driving force behind the various traditions of aniconism in Christianity.
High Church Lutheranism is a movement which began in 20th-century Europe that emphasizes worship practices and doctrines that are similar to those found within both Roman Catholicism and the Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism. In the more general usage of the term it describes the general High Church characteristics of Lutheranism in the Nordic countries such as Sweden, Finland and the Baltics. The mentioned countries, once a part of the Swedish Empire, have more markedly preserved Catholic traditions.
Christianity has not generally practised aniconism, or the avoidance or prohibition of types of images, but has had an active tradition of making and venerating images of God and other religious figures. However, there are periods of aniconism in Christian history, notably during the controversy of the Byzantine iconoclasm of the 8th century, and following the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, when Calvinism in particular rejected all images in churches, and this practice continues today in Reformed (Calvinist) churches, as well as some forms of fundamentalist Christianity. The Catholic Church has always defended the use of sacred images in churches, shrines, and homes, encouraging their veneration but condemning anyone who would worship them as if they were gods themselves.
The Protestant Reformation during the 16th century in Europe almost entirely rejected the existing tradition of Catholic art, and very often destroyed as much of it as it could reach. A new artistic tradition developed, producing far smaller quantities of art that followed Protestant agendas and diverged drastically from the southern European tradition and the humanist art produced during the High Renaissance. The Lutheran churches, as they developed, accepted a limited role for larger works of art in churches, and also encouraged prints and book illustrations. Calvinists remained steadfastly opposed to art in churches, and suspicious of small printed images of religious subjects, though generally fully accepting secular images in their homes.
Calvinism originated with the Reformation in Switzerland when Huldrych Zwingli began preaching what would become the first form of the Reformed doctrine in Zürich in 1519.
All Saints' Church, commonly referred to as Schlosskirche to distinguish it from the Stadtkirche of St. Mary's – and sometimes known as the Reformation Memorial Church – is a Lutheran church in Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is the site where, according to Philip Melanchthon, the Ninety-five Theses were posted by Martin Luther in 1517, the act that has been called the start of the Protestant Reformation. From 1883 onwards, the church was restored as a memorial site and re-inaugurated on 31 October 1892, 375 years after Luther's posting.
Catholic art is art related to the Catholic Church. This includes visual art (iconography), sculpture, decorative arts, applied arts, and architecture. In a broader sense, also Catholic music may be included. Expressions of art may or may not attempt to illustrate, supplement and portray in tangible form Catholic teaching. Catholic art has played a leading role in the history and development of Western art since at least the 4th century. The principal subject matter of Catholic art has been the life and times of Jesus Christ, along with people associated with him, including his disciples, the saints, and motives from the Catholic Bible.
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the teaching of Martin Luther, a 16th century German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity.
Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.
The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus, is the best-known symbol of Christianity. It is related to the crucifix and to the more general family of cross symbols, the term cross itself being detached from the original specifically Christian meaning in modern English.
After Luther's objections to large public religious images had started to fade, Lucas Cranach the Elder, along with his son and workshop began to work on a number of altarpieces of the Last Supper, among other subjects.