During the 16th century the Catholic Church would come face to face with one of the greatest protests that would eventually break them. A monk named Martin Luther became disgusted at the Church when they began selling indulgences, or a piece of paper that forgives a person’s sins. Essentially, the Catholic Church convinced believers they could “buy their way into heaven.” Luther was so appalled by this he confronted the church with the ninety-five thesis, wrote books upon books about his thoughts and beliefs, and translated the Bible into German so people others could read God’s Word for themselves. The printing press spread Martin Luther’s thoughts around Europe. Readers could view images such as woodcut prints as useful devotional aids. This uproar in belief change was named: The Protestant Reformation.
The Reformation affected the arts, specifically in the types of art that was commissioned. The doctrinal differences in Catholics and Protestants took divergent stances on the role of visual imagery in religion. Catholics thought church decoration was a way to communicate with God. On the other hand, Protestants believed such decoration could lead to idolatry and distract viewers from focusing on the real reason for their presence in church-to worship and communicate directly with God. This was a huge change in the way people viewed art within the church.
There were many other changes in art and how it was perceived. As I mentioned before, woodcut became very popular because it was very cost effective, easy, and fast on the printing press. Albrecht Durer‘s support for Lutheranism, or Protestantism, surfaces in his painting of the Four Apostles. Durer, along with many other artists at the time, created pieces that revealed their beliefs, or “side” of the conflict.