Christ Blessing, Surrounded By A Donor Family

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Christ Blessing, Surrounded by a Donor Family (1573-1582) offers valuable insight into a changing European landscape during the sixteenth century. The Protestant Reformation, which reached its climax during this era, rejected many aspects of Catholicism. Among other things, Protestants believed that each individual should read the Bible and develop a meaningful connection to G-d rather than limiting the Bible to the clergy’s interpretation.1 This Protestant belief and other tenets of the Reformers are evident in the Reformation’s art. Christ Blessing, Surrounded by a Donor Family demonstrates the manner in which the cultural shift from Catholicism to Protestantism in Northern Europe during the Reformation was reflected in that era’s art. …show more content…

The inscriptions of Bible verses in Low German in Christ Blessing, Surrounded by a Donor Family are also indicative of the influence on Protestant beliefs on the painting. Prior to the Reformation, the Bible (like all Catholic liturgy) was always read in Latin. However, Latin was a language that was only comprehensible to the clergy and to a small class of very well educated and wealthy individuals. The vast majority of Europeans did not comprehend Latin and, therefore, they had to rely on the clergy to interpret the Bible’s teachings. Moreover, prior to the invention of the printing press Bibles, like all other books, had to be copied by hand. Since this was a time consuming and expensive process, Bibles were not widely dispersed. At the start of the Reformation, Gutenberg designed the printing press. The revolutionary invention of the printing press enabled the mass production of books and a reduction in their cost, which allowed a much larger audience to own Bibles.5 Furthermore, the translation of the Bible into the vernacular allowed a much wider audience to read and interpret it for themselves.6 The wide dissemination of relatively inexpensive Bibles in the vernacular served as a powerful catalyst for the spread of Protestantism. The inscriptions on the painting are indicative of the Protestant desire to disseminate the Bible broadly. Moreover, they derive from a copy of Johannes Bugenhagen’s translation of the bible

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