Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Reformation of the Image

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Reformation of the Image

Article excerpt

Early Modern European The Reformation of the Image. By Joseph Leo Koerner. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 2004. Pp. 493; 216 illustrations.)

Koerner was born in the United States, and his early education was in both the English and German languages. He did his advanced work in art history at Yale and Berkeley and is now professor in art history at the Courtauld Institute in London. Preceding this volume are two masterful works, the first on Caspar David Friedrich and the second on self-portraits in German Renaissance art. Those who have read these volumes will not be surprised by the scholarship and sweeping scope of the current volume, a work that marks him as second to none in Reformation history.

The time scope of the volume covers the period from the first decade of the sixteenth century into the sixth decade. The two central figures are Martin Luther and Cranach the Elder, meaning that theology and art are the ambiance of these two friends during their time in Wittenberg. Many readers may already know that Cranach was one of the few persons whom Luther contacted while he was in hiding at the Wartburg and that they were godparents of some of their respective children. What they may not know is the extent of the working partnership on the place of art in the Reformation and the form this took.

While iconoclasm defined the approach of most Reformation figures, Luther rejected the subjects of Catholic art rather than art outright. …

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