Friday, March 9, 2007

Art for Lent

For the season of Lent at Parish Pres, we are using different selections of etchings on the cover of the bulletin all by Albrecht Dürer—the great artist of the Reformation.

Dürer was born in 1471 in Nuremburg. The son of a goldsmith, at the age of thirteen, Dürer apprenticed with his father, and by the age of fifteen, he entered another apprenticeship with a local painter and wood cut artisan. By his early twenties, Dürer earned his living as book illustrator, and after a visit to Venice, he returned to Nuremburg and established his own workshop. By the turn of the century, Dürer enjoyed widespread acclaim and commissions for paintings as well as great demand for his printed works. In 1511 he published two versions of the passion story—the Large Passion and the Small Passion because of the size paper used in the printing process. His artistic interest was vast, and he excelled in many different forms and subject matter from self-portraits, to nature and animal studies, to biblical themes.

Dürer was a follower of the Reformation. When he heard that Martin Luther had been arrested, he exclaimed, “Oh, God, is Luther dead? Who henceforth is to expound to us the holy Gospel with such clarity!” One of his greatest paintings, The Four Apostles, is considered by many to be a symbolic representation of the Reformation and its principal proponents. Dürer spent the last years of his life publishing his theoretical writings on art, and he died on April 6, 1528—just before his fifty-seventh birthday.

During the season of Lent, each week features a different illustration from the Passion story. So as we progressively move through Lent, we are also progressively moving through the episodes of Holy Week.

For the first Sunday of Lent, the depiction of Christ washing the feet of Peter reminds us of the humility of Christ—the theme for the sermon that morning. Last week the etching of the Last Supper was a reminder of the nature of true worship in Spirit and in Truth. This week, the Agony in the Garden focuses on Christ’s prayer for believers and the miracle of the incarnation in that God was made flesh in order to fulfill the Law and be the propitiation for our sins. Subsequent images will move us through the rest of Holy Week culminating in the crucifixion on Good Friday and the Resurrection on Easter Sunday morning.

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