Although it wasn’t until 1517 that Martin Luther (1483-1546) became the face of the Protestant Reformation by posting his Ninety-Five Theses on the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, the roots of dissatisfaction with the Roman Catholic Church were deep-seated by then.  Luther’s action, at first seemingly rather benign, was the decisive axe-blow to a tree already beginning to fall.  Essentially it completed the collapse of medieval society and launched the modern age: by translating the Bible into contemporary German vernacular and disseminating his teachings through the newly invented printing press, Luther not only eroded Catholic authority, but also epitomized how the right tools, and strategic use of technology, could quickly spur irreversible change.

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), "Portrait of Martin Luther," 1528, oil on panel, 15 2/3 x 10 in., Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt
Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), “Portrait of Martin Luther,” 1528, oil on panel, 15 2/3 x 10 in., Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt

This is an excerpt from “In Minneapolis, Reconsidering Martin Luther”. Find the full article in the November / December 2016 Edition of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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