Melanchthon House

From the museum's collection in honour of one of Luther's most important friends and supporters

By State Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

State Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

Melanchthon House (1536) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

The stately house offered sufficient space for Melanchthon and his family as well as for numerous students. He lived here until his death in 1560. The life and work of the reformer are explored in the historic building and in the museum building, which opened in 2013.

The residence itself is the most important exhibit in the exhibition, as it has never been significantly changed over the centuries. Since 2016, medicinal plants have also been growing again in Melanchthon's herb garden behind the house - in keeping with the tradition of the herbalist scholar.

Melanchthon House (1536 (historical building) / 2013 (museum)) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

The Melanchthon House from the street side, on the right the museum, on the left the historic building

Melanchthon House (1536) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

View of the Melanchthon House. Philipp Melanchthon lived here with his family from 1539 and also died here on April 19, 1560.

Melanchthon House (1536) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

On the recommendation of Johannes Reuchlin, Philip Melanchthon was appointed professor of Greek at Wittenberg University by Frederick the Wise in 1518. To bind him to the city, the Elector had this house built and gave it to him in 1536.

Melanchthon Garden (2013) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

View of the Melanchthon Garden behind the Melanchthon House.

Melanchthon with Dürer (19th/20th century) by according to K. KochOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

The wood engraving shows a meeting of the young Melanchthon with Albrecht Dürer in Nuremberg in 1525. It is one of the few testimonies from Melanchthon's biography in a single scene typical for the 19th century.

Philipp Melanchthon (2nd half of the 16th century, restored 2013) by Lucas Cranach the YoungerOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

A highlight of the exhibition is the larger-than-life full-length portrait of Philipp Melanchthon. It is one of the best works from the workshop of the younger Cranach. It was intended as a counterpart to a Luther painting, which, however, has not survived.

Philipp Melanchthon (19th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

Portrait before restoration in 2013

Philipp Melanchthon (2013) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

Portrait after restoration in 2013

Rest bed (19th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

In Melanchthon's study and death room is the resting bed that is attested by sources from the 16th century. The art professor Friedrich Oswald Kuhn designed the interior of the entire room according to these specifications.

Study and dying room (19th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

The study and death room still forms the center of the house today. On the occasion of Melanchthon's 400th birthday in 1897, the idea arose to furnish at least this room of the house in such a way that it reminded of the first inhabitant.

Closets (16th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

Two small "bookcases" came to light during the building-historical investigations of the house. In the wall niches, which were later bricked up, the original shelves were still found, on which writings and files used to lie.

History of the town of Wittenberg (1556) by Philipp MelanchthonOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

Philipp Melanchthon considered intellectual property to be wealth. This original manuscript on the history of the city of Wittenberg, written by Melanchthon in Latin, is one of them.

Silver casting medal (1540) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

Even then, precious souvenirs of Melanchthon were very popular. Thus, 16 medals with his portrait have survived from the 16th century. The oldest portrait of Melanchthon on medals in the exhibition is the cast silver medal from 1540.

Table slab (1551) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

The top of a stone table, which originally stood in the garden, is now in the hallway of the house. It is made of slate, which was rarely used in this size. It is assumed that Melanchthon received the table as a gift.

Melanchthon bust (1817) by according to Johann Gottfried SchadowOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

In 1821, the Luther Monument was inaugurated on the Wittenberg market square. The people of Eisleben received the busts of Luther and Melanchthon created by Johann Gottfried Schadow. They were placed in St. Andrew's Church.

Luther bust (1817) by according to Johann Gottfried SchadowOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

In 1821, the Luther Monument was inaugurated on the Wittenberg market square. The people of Eisleben received the busts of Luther and Melanchthon created by Johann Gottfried Schadow. They were placed in St. Andrew's Church.

Flag of the Wittenberg University (16th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

This flag is one of three preserved flags of the Wittenberg University, which can be admired in the museum in the "Schatzkammer". This flag of the entire university shows the coat of arms of the Electorate of Saxony as well as the imperial eagle as a reference to the imperial privilege of the Wittenberg High School.

Salary receipt (1559) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

Insight into the administrative procedures of the university: The receipt of the teachers of the Faculty of Arts clarifies the modalities of the salary. The money was paid quarterly, and the recipients had to sign a receipt. Melanchthon was one of the university's top earners, receiving 75 gulden per quarter.

Laying of the foundation stone of the Melanchthon monument (1860) by according to Johannes RabeOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

After Nuremberg and Bretten, Wittenberg also received a Melanchthon monument. The foundation stone was laid on April 19, 1860, on the market square next to that of Martin Luther; it was completed in 1865.

Chronicon Carionis (1588) by Philipp MelanchthonOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

Among Melanchthon's favorite topics was history. This unstructured manuscript on world history came from his student friend Johannes Carion. He revised it entirely, but allowed it to appear under the name of the original author.

The Papal Ass (1535) by Philipp Melanchthon (text)Original Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

The Pope's Donkey and the Monk's Calf are among the most popular caricatures of the Reformation. They illustrated a satirical pamphlet edited by Luther and Melanchthon in 1523 against the papal regiment and the excesses of monasticism. Melanchthon related a monster allegedly found dead in the Tiber River in 1496 to the pope, while Luther interpreted the Saxon calf miscarriage with tonsure-like head deformity as a religious order representative. Countless reprints and copies of the woodcuts prove the effectiveness of these image designs.

Handbook on how to hold children to Scripture and Teaching (1524) by Philipp MelanchthonOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

His experiences with students, most of whom were still very young, led Melanchthon to devote more attention to establishing and improving schools. He also wrote a "Handbüchlein, wie man Kinder zur Schrift und Lehre halten soll," which deals with elementary education.

Philipp Melanchthon (1577) by Baltasar JenichenOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

The engraving shows Melanchthon at work. The flat desk, the inkwell, and the small pen in his hand provide a realistic view of how science was done in practice in Melanchthon's day.

Philipp Melanchthon (1526) by Albrecht DürerOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

The memory of a person is also shaped by his or her pictorial representation. This great work of art by Albrecht Dürer marked the beginning of a series of portraits of Melanchthon made for public, private use as well as commercial purposes. Dürer's engraving was made in Nuremberg, where Melanchthon sat for him.

Melanchthon and his mother (1817) by Johann Michael VolzOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

Another of the few testimonies from Melanchthon's biography: the picture shows the scholar with his mother. He visited her in 1529 on his way back from the Imperial Diet in Speyer.

Wall covering (2013) by Staatliche Textil- und Gobelinmanufaktur Halle GmbHOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

When Friedrich Oswald Kuhn was commissioned at the end of the 19th century to refurnish Melanchthon's study and death chamber according to old models, he found holes at regular intervals on the wall during the survey. He interpreted them as remnants of a textile wall covering and had corresponding textiles made. During restoration in 2012, these were found to be in poor condition, so only one panel was restored. For a second, this copy was made.

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