Archive for the ‘Lucas Cranach the Younger’ Tag

Feast of Albrecht Durer, Matthias Grunewald, and Lucas Cranach the Elder (August 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Part of the Isenheim Altarpiece, by Matthias Grünewald

Image in the Public Domain

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ALBRECHT DÜRER (MAY 21, 1471-APRIL 6, 1528)

German Painter, Engraver, and Woodcut Illustrator

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MATTHIAS GRÜNEWALD (CIRCA 1460-1528)

German Painter

Born Mathis Gothardt Nithardt

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LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER (OCTOBER 4, 1472-OCTOBER 16, 1553)

German Painter and Woodcut Illustrator

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RENAISSANCE ARTISTS

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Feast day in The Episcopal Church (since 2009) = August 5

Feast day in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (since 2006) = April 6

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INTRODUCTION

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A tendency evident in the calendars of saints, expanding in Anglican and Lutheran denominations during the last few decades, has been composite feasts commemorating several people who did similar work–composing music, resisting chattel slavery, advocating for the rights of women, et cetera.  Frequently these are composite feasts of people who were contemporaries of each other.  To some extent I follow the same practice here, at my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, but sometimes I break up composite feasts when adding those individuals to this calendar.  If I were to break up this composite feast, I would keep Dürer and Grünewald on the same feast (because the former taught the latter) and assign Cranach a feast day in October, as well as consider adding at least one son to Cranach’s feast.  As it is, the Episcopal-Lutheran composite feast works fine.

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ALBRECHT DÜRER

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Above:  Self-Portrait of Albrecht Dürer, 1500

Image in the Public Domain

Albrecht Dürer (the Younger) was the greatest German artist in his fields during his time.  He, born in Nuremberg, was a son of Albrecht Dürer the Elder (1427-1502), who was a goldsmith, and Barbara Holper.  Our saint studied first under his father.  Then, from 1486 to 1490, he studied (at Nuremberg) under Michael Wolgemut, a painter and woodcut illustrator.

Dürer spent much of his life traveling in Europe.  In the 1490s he went to Alsace, where he arrived shortly after the death of Martin Schongauer, the most prominent German graphic artist at the time.  So our saint studied Schogauer’s works.  Dürer also traveled to Basel that year; there he taught Matthias Grünewald.

Dürer, who married Agnes Frey (d. December 28, 1539) on July 7, 1494, was a Roman Catholic who harbored Lutheran sympathies toward the end of his life.  He created many sacred works, including altarpiece, for both Catholic and Lutheran churches.  His famous Praying Hands was part of a plan for a portion of an altarpiece (subsequently destroyed in wartime), completed in 1509.  Dürer also created scientific drawings and engravings, and wrote theoretical treatises on topics such as fortification and proportions.

Above:  Praying Hands

Image in the Public Domain

Dürer, from 1512 to 1519 an employee of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, reunited briefly with Grünewald at Aachen, for the coronation of Charles V, in 1521.  The two masters, who had different styles, exchanged art.

Dürer died at Nuremberg on April 6, 1528.  He was 46 years old.

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MATTHIAS GRÜNEWALD

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The real name of this artist was Mathis Gothardt NithardtMatthias Grünewald was the name by which Joachim von Sandrart referred to him in Teutschen Academie (1675).

Few details of the life of Nithardt/Grünewald have survived.  He, born in Warzburg circa 1460, was in Strasburg in 1479.  He studied under Dürer in Basel in 1490, was back in Wurzberg in 1501, and worked as court painter to the Archbishop of Mainz from 1509 to 1526, until the Archbishop fired him.  Nithardt/Grünewald died in Halle in 1528.  The reasons for Nithardt/Grünewald’s termination have remained vague to historians, but many have proposed the artist’s Lutheran sympathies.  Nithardt/Grünewald had to be diplomatic regarding organized religion as the Protestant Reformation got underway.

Nithardt/Grünewald created much sacred art, most of which, unfortunately, has not survived to the present day.  He painted the crucifixion of Jesus frequently and created many altarpieces.  His masterpiece was the altarpiece for the church at the Monastery of St. Anthony, Isenheim.

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LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER

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Above:  Lucas Cranach the Elder (1550), by Lucas Cranach the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

Lucas Cranach the Elder, unlike Dürer and Nithardt/Grünewald, converted to Lutheranism.  Our saint, born in Kronach, Franconia, on October 4, 1472, was a son of Hans Cranach, a painter.  Hans taught his son painting.  Lucas, in Vienna in 1503, arrived in Wittenberg (as the court painter to the Electors of Saxony) two years later.  Cranach, husband of Barbara Brengbier (d. 1540), created both Catholic and Protestant art, as well as depictions from pagan mythology.  He, a friend and confidante of Martin Luther, enjoyed the protection of Frederick the Wise, as did the Luther family.  Cranach also created woodcut illustrations for an edition of Luther’s German Bible.  He died at Wittenberg on October 16, 1553.  He was 81 years old.

Cranach’s most famous child was Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515-1586), also a painter.

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CONCLUSION

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These three great artists channeled their faith into their art.  They used their God-given talents to glorify God.  Fortunately, one can still enjoy pieces they created.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MILTON SMITH LITTLEFIELD, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN AND CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF SIGISMUND VON BIRKEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT, U.S. POET, JOURNALIST, AND HYMN WRITER

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We give thanks to you, O Lord, for the vision and skill of

Albrecht Dürer, Matthias Grünewald, and Lucas Cranach the Elder,

whose artistic depictions helped the peoples of their age understand

the full suffering and glory of your incarnate Son;

and we pray that their work may strengthen our faith in

Jesus Christ and the mystery of the Holy Trinity;

for you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Exodus 35:21-29

Psalm 96:7-13

Romans 8:1-11

John 19:31-37

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 507

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