Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation did indeed effect 16th century art quite a bit. During the 16th century, the Catholic church began to sell indulgences for a large sum of money which, according to the church, guaranteed your redemption and acceptance into heaven. This greatly upset the monk Martin Luther. Luther knew that the Bible clearly states that the only way to heaven is through Christ, and that forgiveness relies on repentance. Therefore, Luther wrote his ninety-five theses, and nailed it onto the church. This work which clearly stated the church was completely wrong outraged the church. And after Luther published his works through Gutenbourg's newly founded printing press, others saw how truly silly it was to believe in indulgences, and that Luther was correct on his statements. Luther provided graphic woodcut images along side his theses document for those who could not read. He also converted the Bible from Latin, which only the priests could read, to German so people could read the Bible fore themselves instead of relying on the church.

So after all this controversy with the church, people began to separate themselves from the church, and the Catholic church attendance shot down extremely low. The Catholics believed that artwork was a way to communicate with God, although the Protestants believed that those images could cause idolatry, and actually distracted people from communicating with God. The Protestants say this in their "Protestant Ten Commandments." The commandments states, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image." So the Protestant churches retained no large altarpieces or any of the usual Catholic church artwork, causing it to be quite bare. Although, the Protestants did process some images, small woodcut prints, actually they produced many of these prints. These prints were quite easy and inexpensive to create, and were used by the Protestants as devotional aids and book illustrations. These prints also reflected their own belief that they were able to create through Luther's translation of the Bible to German, so they were not reflecting what the church was simply telling them that the Bible states. The Protestants create more images of real life situation, applying to the Bible, instead of so many actual scenes from the Bible, although, the Protestant Durer did create The Last Supper, which ,according to Luther, is one of the only two sacraments (the church claimed there were seven sacraments when Luther could only find two, baptism and the last supper). Therefore, the Protestants changed 16th century art in making woodcut prints and the Protestants religious beliefs to become quite dominant at the time, and caused the religious Catholic paintings and sculptures to fade away.

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