Art for Halloween – or All-Hallow’s-Eve? (Luther & Cranach)

Cher’s Famous Art

31 October 2020

“Martin Luther”

Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1533, German Renaissance

October 31st = Halloween! Right?  

Yes. So, why would I post a famous painting of a famous German theologian by a famous German artist–on Halloween?

Dueling Holidays…

October 31st has dueling holidays, and it is more than just proximity on the calendar. (I get to don my theologian’s cap here! Hang in there with me as I attempt to make the complex simple!)

For my Famous Art this week I decided I’d rather focus on the Legacy of Luther than Ghosts and Goblins! 

October 31st is Halloween, right?  So, why would I post a famous painting of a famous German theologian by a famous artist--on Halloween? October 3125 is dueling holidays, and it is more than just proximity on the calendar. Click on the painting as I shed some insight into the subject and attempt to make the complex simple!
“Martin Luther” by Lucas Cranach

Reformation Day

First, it is also Reformation Day because on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous “95 Theses” to the Wittenberg church door, launching the Protestant Reformation; forever changing the face of the Christian Church.  

All Hallow’s Eve

Second, the day holds earlier significance for Christians.  Since 609 the Roman Catholic Church celebrated “All Saint’s Day”—or “All Hallows’ Day”— on November 1st, commemorating Christian martyrs and saints.  Hence, October 31st = “All Hallows Eve” – anglicized into “Halloween.”  

Celtic Origins

Finally, even before that, Halloween’s deepest roots are decidedly pagan with Celtic origins and practices from which many of our modern Halloween traditions are based (i.e. spirits, masks).

Cranach, the Artist

The artist, Lucas Cranach, The Elder, was a court portrait painter for the Electors of Saxony, Wittenberg. He made numerous portraits of Luther and provided woodcut illustrations for Luther’s German translation of the Bible as well multiple other biblical and mythological subjects. This portrait is small (6” x 8”), beech wood, and shows him wearing the distinctive black Protestant vestments. Cranach was a follower of Luther, a family friend, witness to Luther’s marriage, and godfather to their first child. His son, Lucas Cranach the Younger, continued the work of his father’s studio after his death.  

Wittenberg Germany is a quaint, historical city that holds the heart of Luther-Land

TRAVEL TIP: If one is interested in exploring first-hand the life and times and places of Luther, there are multiple guided group tours of Luther-Land in Germany with many different focuses—once the world opens up again, of course! One tour group I can personally recommend is The Quest Travel Group, Atlanta, GA as we have successfully used them extensively in our tours. ***Tell them that Cher from YEAH Educational Tours sent you!***

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