(b. 1484/85, Schwäbisch-Gmünd, d. 1545, Strasbourg)

Portrait of Martin Luther


This portrait of Luther appeared on the title page of the book 'Acta et res gestae D Martini Lutheri' published in Strasbourg in 1521.

In 1517 Martin Luther, an Augustian monk and professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg, posted ninety theses or points for debate on the door of the local palace church, which also served the students. This act is often viewed as the start of the Protestant Reformation.

The printing press permitted Luther's writings to reach audiences across Europe. Portrait prints made him a recognizable celebrity. Hans Baldung Grien represented him as a monk inspired by the Holy Spirit. His intensity seems divinely given as he holds the Bible, the foundation of his faith. The likeness of Luther has a commemorative quality about it since, when it was initially issued,, the reformer had been seized returning from the Diet of Worms (1521), a forum where he publicly committed himself to the cause of Church reform, and was feared dead.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 6 minutes):
Johann Sebastian Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565