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THE MYSTIC WINEPRESS IN SIXTEENTH CENTURY REFORMATION ART AND THOUGHT

Katherina Fostano


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Thesis Description


Title

THE MYSTIC WINEPRESS IN SIXTEENTH CENTURY REFORMATION ART AND THOUGHT

Author

Katherina Fostano

Advisor

Dorothy M Shepard

Date

Fall 2015

Subject

  • Christian Art

    Abstract

    According to Art Historian Émile Mâle, the thirteenth century was a glorious period in the history of Christian art, a period when all the radiant aspects of Christianity were reflected: goodness, gentleness, and love. He writes, “Art never expressed the essence of Christianity better than in the thirteenth century”. However, he thought the opposite of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. To Mâle, these were periods of artistic austerity, afflicted by a new feeling of pathos. He called it a somber and tragic art that failed to reflect heaven. Curiously enough, a “terror-stricken” feeling is exactly what sixteenth-century reformers, like Martin Luther (1483-1546), believed the Passion of Christ should elicit from its viewers. In his sermon on the Sufferings of Christ, Martin Luther writes: “This terror-stricken feeling should spring forth, so that you see the severe wrath and the unchangeable earnestness of God in regard to sin and sinners”.

    This thesis investigates the origins of a recurring Christian motif in Reformation art, the image of Christ in the Mystic Winepress. This motif has a particularly rich iconographic history and has been used as a powerful Christian allegory for many centuries. During the sixteenth century, the theme was reproduced extensively in secular and Reformation pamphlets as visual propaganda that helped spread new Lutheran ideas. By investigating the theme of Christ in the Mystic Winepress and the different emphasis of its use in sixteenth-century Reformation art and thought, we will gain a better understanding of the visual polemic of this contentious period of art.

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Citation

Katherina Fostano , “THE MYSTIC WINEPRESS IN SIXTEENTH CENTURY REFORMATION ART AND THOUGHT,” History of Art & Design Theses, accessed September 21, 2017, http://hadthesis.pratt.edu/items/show/68.