Cranach the Eders Alter Piece at Wellenburg

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Running head: THE ELDERS ALTER PIECE UNV 200 History of Ideas (OL-100) Diane Tipton Grand Canyon 11/17/2009 Instructor: Carl Garrigus
Cranach the Eder’s Alter piece at Wellenburg is an early protestant work depicting leading reformers as Apostles at the Last Supper. We will discuss why that would be unusual. Paintings of the period changed drastically based on the change in religious belief at the time. Protestantism and Catholicism became very different religions with very different beliefs and it showed in the art of the period.
This is a very interesting painting in the sense that it provides us with a strong picture of what the Protestant Reformation was all about. There was a strong belief at the time that man was connected to God in many ways. Catholics believed that Godliness was separate and their paintings and art clearly showed that. The Protestants had a little different way of seeing that issue though and Crach the Eder’s Alter piece at Wellenburg shows that.
The main part of the movement is shown well here, as the Protestants wanted to show that the worshipers were well in connection with the Devine. What better way to do that then to place those that were formulating and moving the Reformation forward at the table of the Last Supper. In this picture, the people sitting all around the table are the Reformers. They clearly do not look like Godly creatures or at least not in the sense that we often think of them. Instead they look like the average person of the day.
The Protestant group’s artistic bent was toward showing common people as part of the divine as they performed their everyday activities. (Fiero, 2006). After all, God created man in his own image so man was perfect. Right (Fiero, 2006). So, why not show man as part of Gods world. That is what their art did.
Devine grace was what they hoped to portray, sometimes they showed sinners that were accepted by Christ. This was supposed to depict that only the grace of God could give anyone Salvation. Even today, there is a great deal of disagreement about these things between Catholics and Protestants. Catholics were very stern about having very religious and spiritual imagery as part of their paintings. When you look at their paintings of the period you will note angels and beautiful scenery. Certainly there are not images of everyday people sitting at God’s table.
In conclusion, it was an interesting and difficult time. Two major religious aspects of the time had two completely different ways of looking at how religious art should be manifested. The painting we have chosen to talk about is a perfect depiction of that religious thought. Man is God’s child and because of that we are perfect because God made us that way and in his image.
Fiero, G.K. (2006). Landmarks in humanities. New York: McGraw-Hill