Renaissance and Reformation

German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Difference Between the True Religion of Christ and the False Idolatrous Teaching of the Antichrist in its Principal Features / Protestantism and Catholicism. (1546) by Lucas Cranach the Younger and Pancratius KempffRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther published his ninety-five theses on the door of the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenberg. This “heretical” act became the trigger for the Reformation and a schism of the church and led to far-reaching social upheaval. Luther’s criticism was directed at the luxury and abuses of the Catholic Church and in particular at the selling of indulgences by which the faithful could pay for their release from their sins. Calling into question the powerful institution of the Catholic Church also opened up new perspectives on the world in other areas. The ideas of humanism and the Renaissance influenced human thought. Around 1500, the horizon expanded on the levels: not only in terms of knowledge but also geographically with the discovery and conquest of new continents and cultures.

On the occasion of the five hundredth anniversary of the publication of Luther’s theses, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen München are presenting key works of German art around 1500 at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The masterpieces of Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Lucas Cranach the Younger, Hans Holbein the Elder and Hans Holbein the Younger, Tilman Riemenschneider, and other contemporaries reflect the social tensions of this epoch, which is one of the most important chapters in the history of German and European art and culture.

The exhibition was made possible by support from the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Interview with Patrice Marandel (2016) by Los Angeles County Museum of ArtRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Christ as the Man of Sorrows at the Column after Flagellation (1515) by Lucas Cranach the ElderRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Tradition and Religion

Devotional
images with motifs from the Bible characterized Western art prior to 1500�.� For centuries, the Catholic Church developed traditions for
illustrating liturgy and ritual. At their center stood the history of
salvation through Christ and depictions of the Virgin and of saints
as mediators between the faithful and God. Around 1500, a
transformation in the visual language becomes evident: the figures appear more human, their physicality and individuality are
emphasized, they seem to come from this world.

The Virgin and child with a Bunch of Grapes (c. 1525) by Lucas Cranach the ElderRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Adam (after 1537) by Lucas Cranach the YoungerRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Eve, Lucas Cranach the Younger, after 1537, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
The Virgin as Mother of Sorrows, Albrecht Dürer, c. 1495-98, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more

Virgin and Child (c. 1516) by Hans LeinbergerRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Not
only in church services but also in daily life, the faithful
maintained a close connection to biblical figures and the legends of
the saints. In private devotion especially, small-format wooden
sculptures of Christ, the Virgin, as well as saints were prayed to and
beseeched for their direct support in difficult situations. Not
infrequently, the figures were treated as if the people depicted were
actually present. They were touched, kissed, in many places even
dressed for festivals and presented with gifts. The iconoclasts later
took aim at this custom. They considered it as worshipping of idols, which
was prohibited in the Bible, and thus destroyed many Christian works of art and objects of devotion.

Virgin and Child on the Crescent Moon (c. 1470–80) by unknown, StrasbourgRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Saint Margaret (c. 1520) by Henrik DouvermanRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Seated Virgin with Child (c. 1480) by Michel ErhartRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Standing Virgin with Child (c. 1520) by Tilman RiemenschneiderRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

The Holy Family with Two Angels (1521) by Hans Leu the YoungerRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Humanism and Reality

With
the spread of humanist ideas from Italy, new pictorial motifs reached the lands north of the Alps. Landscapes, historical scenes,
and figures from ancient mythology bore witness to a new, altered
perception of the world between a longing for antiquity and intense
observation of nature and the human form. In filigreed drawings, we
find the original, individual styles of artists such as Albrecht
Dürer and Erhard and Albrecht Altdorfer. More and more, the motifs
are depicted for their own sake. The drawings are thus also an
expression of a European Renaissance art in which artists act as
individuals and their works of art become increasingly autonomous.

Church Path, Wolf Huber, c. 1518–20, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Mountain Landscape with Bridge, Erhard Altdorfer, c. 1530, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Interior of a Church, Albrecht Altdorfer, before 1520, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more

Cupid (16th Century) by Unknown Artist (Possibly after Albrecht Dürer)Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Ancient gods and heroes such as Cupid, Saturn, Venus, and Hercules were rediscovered and became popular pictorial motifs in the wake of the Renaissance enthusiasm for antiquity. Their adventures between this world and the beyond revolve around universal themes such as love, death, honor, and betrayal. But also “superstitions” from the common people, such as the widespread belief in witches, are  found in paintings of the period around 1500. Although the humanists mocked these as “delusion,” the subject offered fascinating material for artists and some (fool’s) license for unusual scenes and compositions.

The Dream of Hercules (c. 1515/16) by Peter Vischer the YoungerRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Witches' Sabbath (1515) by Hans FranckRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Count Palatine Philip the Warlike (1517) by Hans Baldung GrienRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Portrait and Status

During the Renaissance and Reformation, portraits played a central role, since they captured important figures in the rapidly growing, increasingly complex society. Burghers, merchants, and scholars had their likeness recorded in the new detailed style of oil painting. At a time in which paintings were expensive and elaborate, having one’s likeness painted signified privilege and prestige. Famous portraits such as that of the merchant Jakob Muffel by Albrecht Dürer or the double portrait of Thomas Godsalve and his son by Hans Holbein the Younger illustrate the historical and artistic relevance of the portrait around 1500.

Martin Luther, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1532, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Philipp Melanchthon, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1532, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Hermann Huddaeus, Ludger tom Ring the Younger, 1568, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Jakob Muffel, Albrecht Dürer, 1526, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Bernhard von Reesen, Albrecht Dürer, 1521, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Count Löwenstein, Hans Baldung Grien, 1513, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Thomas Godsalve and his son Sir John, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1528, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Wolfgang Ronner, Hans Maler, 1529, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Portrait of a Man, Bartholomäus Bruyn the Elder, 1534, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Portrait of a Woman, Bartholomäus Bruyn the Elder, 1534, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more

Head-and-Shoulders Portrait of Count Moritz von Ertingen (1521) by Leonhard BeckRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

The development of European portraiture is tangible in the more widespread drawings as well. Increasingly, this artform was shaped by the humanist idea of the human being as an individual. Depictions of friends, acquaintances, and family members provide clues to the artist’s immediate surroundings, but even the lifelike renderings of unknown people underscored the portraitist’s gift for sensitive observation.

Bernd Krechting, Heinrich Aldgrever, c. 1535, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Praying Woman, Hans Baldung Grien (?), c. 1519, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
The Sculptor and Medalist Hans Schwarz in Half-Profile to the Right, Hans Holbein the Elder, after 1508, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Niclas Kungsperger in Left Profile, Hans Holbein the Elder, c. 1510, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Self-Portrait, Heinrich Aldgrever, undated, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more

Burgonet (before 1589) by Master from AugsburgRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Court and Culture

The
political dimension of humanism is revealed in the increasing power
of principalities that propagated and protected the new ideas of the time. Court
culture achieved exceptional cultural significance and objects from the art collections of electoral princes bare
testimony to the refined art of artisans: jewelry boxes and goblets
but also weapons and armor convey an impression of the life at a
princely court. The art of the court at Dresden, which
enjoyed great respect and had great influence on the imperial level,
was exemplary of a Protestant principality with ambitions to convey
its status.

Cuirass Saddle (before 1589) by Master from AugsburgRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Set of Weapons (Rapier and Dagger) for the Elector Augustus of Saxony (c. 1570-80) by Ulrich Jahn (Dagger Blade) and Meister Cr, MilanRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Dagger with Sheath (c. 1560–80) by unknown, Southern GermanyRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Three-Quarter Armor (Trabharnisch) of Elector Augustus of Saxony (1546) by Peter von Speyer the ElderRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

In
splendid armor, princes presented themselves according to their rank
as representatives and defenders of their Christian faith. Religious scenes
and motifs from the Bible were artfully depicted on iron armor.

Fluted Armor (Riefelharnisch) of Prince Wolfgang of Anhalt-Köthen (c. 1520–30) by unknown, Southern GermanyRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Crossbow and Bolt Case (c. 1570) by Franz Kaphan, DresdenRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Objects from the most precious materials, such as gold and silver, are adorned with figurative decorations. They celebrate virtues such as bravery and justice …

Jewelry Box (c. 1560) by probably from the Workshop of Wenzel JamnitzerRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

... and the Christian faith.

Broadsheet for the Centenary of the Reformation (1617) by unknownRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Conflict and Polemics

The Reformation was not limited to the court but affected all spheres
of society. The conflict between the Catholic Church and the
Reformers was fought throughout the country and even beyond its
borders. In broadsheets and mocking images, the pope and the corrupt
monkhood were severely denounced. The Catholic side responded with
accusations and insults of Luther and his followers.

The Reformers’ ideas were disseminated using modern visual media such as broadsheet, woodcut, and book printing. Numerous printers and skilled artisans and artists in the cities of the empire made it possible to underscore and polarize the conflict with deliberately employed visual propaganda. This made it possible to reach even the illiterate and recruit them visually for the goals of the Reformers and the Protestants.

Allegory of the Monkhood (1521) by Hans Sebald BehamRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Monk's Calf, Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1523, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Papal Ass, Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1523, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Satire of Indulgence, Matthias Gerung, before 1536, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
Seven-headed Martin Luther, Hans Brosamer, c. 1529, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more
The Seven-headed Pope Animal, unknown, c. 1530–43, From the collection of: Renaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach
Show lessRead more

Christ As Conqueror: The Risen Christ Triumphs Over A Three-Headed Devil: “Thus Speaks God: This Is My Dear Son Who Pleases Me, To Him You Should Listen …,” (undated) by unknownRenaissance and Reformation. German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach

Credits: Story

Online Curation: Nadine Söll, Jutta Dette
Text / Editing: Jutta Dette, Astrid Alexander

Based on: Renaissance and Reformation - German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach, Nov 20, 2016–March 26, 2017, A Cooperation of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, and the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen München, Catalogue of the Exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Munich: Prestel, 2016.

© This exhibition was made possible by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen München, and made possible by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany. Additional support is provided by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps