Martin Luther

Martin Luther (1483–1546).
Postil, oder Uszleg der Epistel und Evangelien durch den Advent.
[Strasbourg: Johann Schott, 1522]. (AFG4826)

In 1520, Dürer wrote in his diary, “And God help me that I may go to Dr. Martin Luther; thus, I intend to make a portrait of him with great care and engrave him on a copper plate to create a lasting memorial of the Christian man who helped me overcome so many anxieties.” Unfortunately, Dürer never had the opportunity to portray Luther from life. Most Europeans came to recognize Luther’s features through portraits by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553), who became one of Luther’s closest friends, and Hans Baldung Grien (c. 1484–1545), who was trained in Dürer’s workshop between 1503 and 1507. The exhibited woodcut by Baldung Grien, dated 1521, depicts Luther while he was still an Augustinian canon. He is portrayed much like a saint, illuminated by a halo and inspired by the dove of the Holy Spirit.