“Five hundred years ago a monk in a backwater town at the edge of Germany took on the most powerful men in Europe—the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope—and he won.
Martin Luther’s Reformation ranks among the most successful religious movements in history, altering western society and culture forever, and was a testament to his creative use of communications, notably rapidly evolving print technology, to promote his views. To mark the historic anniversary of Luther posting the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg in 1517, Word and Image: Martin Luther’s Reformation explores the evolution of his movement and its triumphant propagation in text and art.
Word and Image includes more than ninety objects, highlighted by one of the six existing printed copies of the Ninety-Five Theses, and nearly forty paintings, prints, and drawings by the celebrated German Renaissance artist Lucas Cranach the Elder. Also on view will be Luther’s manuscript draft of his famous Old Testament translation, sculptor Conrad Meit’s exquisite statues of Adam and Eve, and over thirty of Luther’s most important publications. The majority of the works in the show are loans from German museums and have never before been exhibited in the United States.” — The Morgan Library
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Martin Luther, 1529. Oil on panel. 41.9 x 28.5 cm. © Fotothek Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha.
Lucas Cranach, Katrina von Bora, Wittenberg, 1529. Foundation Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha.
Martin Luther, The Ninety-Five Theses (broadside), Österreichisches Staatsarchiv/Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv.
Luther House, Wittenberg. © Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt.
Martin Luther, Letter to Emperor Charles V, signed Friedberg, April 28, 1521. Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt.
Martin Luther, December Testament, Das Newe Testament Deutzsch (The New Testament, in German), Wittenberg: Melchior Lotter the Younger, December 1522. Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt Cat.
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Christ and Mary, ca. 1516–20, Oil on parchment on panel. Foundation Schloss Friedenstein Gotha.
Martin Luther, Biblia: das ist die gantze heilige Schrift, Deutsch (Bible, That Is the Complete Holy Scripture, in German), Wittenberg: Hans Lufft, 1541. Stadtarchiv Halle.
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Martin Luther as a Monk, 1520, Engraving. Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt.
Martin Luther, Passional of Christ and Antichrist, Wittenberg: Johann Rhau-Grunenberg, 1521. © Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt.
Lucas Cranach, Luther as a Monk, Wittenberg, 1520, Oil on panel. Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony- AnhaltLuther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt.
Lucas Cranach, Virgin and Child with St. John as a Boy, Wittenberg, ca. 1514. Federal Republic of Germany, on deposit at Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg. Image courtesy of Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg/Germany.  Conrad Meit, Adam and Eve statues, Wittenberg, ca. 1510. Foundation Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha.
Conrad Meit, Adam and Eve statues, Wittenberg, ca. 1510. Foundation Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha.
The curator of the exhibition is John T. McQuillen, Assistant Curator of Printed Books & Bindings at the Morgan Library & Museum.
Images courtesy the Morgan Library & Museum.