CRANACH, Lucas the Elder
(b. 1472, Kronach, d. 1553, Weimar)

Contrasting Protestant and Catholic Christianity

c. 1545
Coloured woodcut
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Reformation was a war waged by pamphlets, some of which have survived as classics of religious polemic. But it was also a war of pictures, and here the Protestant side must be judged the more effective. In the most elaborate of them, Lucas Cranach the Elder showed, as the caption tells us, 'the difference between the true religion of Christ and the false idolatrous teaching of Antichrist'. On the left Luther, inspired by God, preaches true Christianity, with baptism and communion conducted in the foreground; on the right a friar sells indulgences, while the pope counts his money and God and St Francis look down in horror.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.