Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Protestant Reformation's Effect on N.E. Art

As the Protestant Reformation gains momentum and acceptance it not only affects the spiritual rituals of the people of Northern Europe, it affected their everyday life. The art produced as the Reformation gained widespread acceptance began to reflect the new religious beliefs of the people and the effects on their daily lives. The depictions of the Bible being read - even by “commoners” - are seen in works such as Massy’s Money Changer and His Wife. In the Catholic Church it was widely accepted that only the priests and upper clergy could read and interpret the Bible. A lay person did not have accessibility to the Bible and was thought not to have the ability to interpret it correctly.

In addition, religious iconography has changed and evolved through the Protestant Reformation. The Northern European artists used – and probably even helped to create – the new symbolisms of the Protestant religion thus we see less of a focus on the Saints and the Virgin Mary in the post-Reformation art and more of the Bible and it’s reflections into daily life.

The artists of Northern Europe surely began to see a change in the number and type of commissions that they received. Certainly, the number of commissions from the Catholic Church decreased while they reeled from the loss of funds from the sale of indulgences and a decrease in attendance at mass. In addition, the Protestants were just beginning to make judgments about artwork in the church and in the home. Many of the reformers moved away from artwork in the church concerned about graven images and idolatry. Certain denominations of the Protestant religion, like the Anabaptists (also known as the Old Order Amish), continue to be opposed to any sculpture, painting, or photography of a person considering it a “graven image”.

No comments: