During the Reformation, art was a means by which the Gospel was made known to many people who couldn’t read or didn’t have access to books. Today we remember two Reformation artists, Lucas Cranach and Albrecht Dürer, with a devotion from Inside the Reformation.
During the Renaissance, there was a huge explosion of the arts. Many of the world’s well-known artists did their work during the Renaissance. During this time period, artists frequently worked under a sponsor. The sponsor provided support for the artist, who in turn created artwork specifically for their sponsor. The Roman Catholic Church sponsored many great artists, including both Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. As a result, many works of art from this time period depicted religious themes or biblical accounts.
The father-and-son team of Lucas Cranach the Elder and Lucas Cranach the Younger were two of the most prolific Reformation painters. Their portraits often had religious themes; some portraits were even part of church altars. The portrayals of Bible stories often included contemporary individuals. In the Raising of Lazarus, Cranach included images of Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon as well as some of the German princes.
Another art technique perfected during the Reformation was the woodcut. The artist carved a reverse image on a large, flat board. Ink was applied to the carved board and then imprinted on paper to produce the final image. This method allowed the artist to produce multiple copies of the same image. Woodcuts also allowed printers to include pictures in books. Many experts consider Albrecht Dürer the master of the woodcut technique. Dürer produced numerous portraits of people and pictures of Bible stories.
Devotional reading is adapted from Inside the Reformation, pages 32–33 © 2012 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Lord God, who after long ages of darkness delivered the Church from the bondage of error, we thank You for those faithful witnesses through whom You restored the Gospel of Christ to men, and we praise You that this blessed light has been preserved for us to this present age. We thank You for making known among us the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, our only Mediator. Defend Your Church against all her foes. Seek and save the lost and all who have gone astray. Preserve among us the pure Word and the holy Sacraments; turn our hearts from false and pernicious doctrine. Direct and strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may abide in the confession of Your Word all the days of our lives and in the end, by Your grace, obtain everlasting life. This I pray in the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prayer is from Lutheran Book of Prayer, page 140 © 2005 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.