Oct 6 Thu 10-11.30am Morgan shows Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and other Printed Material

The monk from nowhere who defeated the Pope with the printing press

Dissenter who changed church dogma
The Morgan has apparently scooped up the core assets of Germany’s three traveling exhibitions in the US (the others are simultaneous in Atlanta and Minneapolis) celebrating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther, history’s most heroic example of a successful modern dissenter who came from nowhere to lead the Reformation, a revision of the sixteen centuries old dogma of a vast group, the powerful and rich Roman Catholic church, which he had joined as a monk to avoid his father’s plan to make him run the family farm and mining business, by arguing that the Scriptures were the only authoritative text, and after nailing his daring Ninety-Five Theses rudely challenging the Pope’s authority behind indulgences, which raised money for the church coffers by letting off sinners from post mortem punishment, to the Wittenberg castle church door in 1517, though only to start a university debate, which never happened, he refused to back down in his 1521 Diet of Worms trial by Emperor Charles V and his nobles for heresy, was hidden by his supporters and in the end led a huge portion of the congregation to form the separate Protestant belief system in a war of ideas which was essentially won by the newly invented printing press, which also printed his newly popular and more accurate translation of the bible, and his sermons and suggestions how to hold services, and enriched his friend and supporter Lucas Cranach the Elder, the Saxony court painter, who lived down the street in Wittenberg, then a town of only 3,000 souls, and when his writings provoked ten nuns to leave their convent nearby and needed help in finding some other way to live, Luther at 40 married one of them aged 27 and had five children, whose descendants form a large association today, and her support very much helped him achieve his Reformation, and continue the comfortable home life of his childhood amid many artifacts discovered in recent archaeology, such as an inkwell, and decorative tiles, which are included in the Morgan show as evidence that Luther was not as poor as he sometimes claimed in public, which implication that he was not himself totally a saintly man is joined by the tendency toward anti-Semitism he expressed in his later preachings.

The PR:


Word and Image: Martin Luther’s Reformation
October 7, 2016 through January 22, 2017

**Press Preview: Thursday, October 6, 10–11:30 am**
RSVP: media@themorgan.org

New York, NY, September 9, 2016 — Five hundred years ago a monk in a backwater town at the edge of Germany took on the most powerful men in Europe—the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope—and he won.

Martin Luther’s Reformation ranks among the most successful religious movements in history, altering western society and culture forever, and was a testament to his creative use of communications, notably rapidly evolving print technology, to promote his views. To mark the historic anniversary of Luther posting the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg in 1517, Word and Image: Martin Luther’s Reformation, a new exhibition opening at the Morgan Library & Museum on October 7, explores the evolution of his movement and its triumphant propagation in text and art. The exhibition will remain on view through January 22.

Word and Image includes more than ninety objects, highlighted by one of the six existing printed copies of the Ninety-Five Theses, and nearly forty paintings, prints, and drawings by the celebrated German Renaissance artist Lucas Cranach the Elder. Also on view will be Luther’s manuscript draft of his famous Old Testament translation, sculptor Conrad Meit’s exquisite statues of Adam and Eve, and over thirty of Luther’s most important publications. The majority of the works in the show are loans from German museums and have never before been exhibited in the United States.

“The Morgan is internationally recognized for its outstanding collections of early printed books and Northern European prints and drawings, so an exhibition on Martin Luther’s deft use of such material to spread his views is an important and exciting opportunity for us,” said Colin B. Bailey, the museum’s director. “Luther understood that his ideas and public image required textual and visual support on a large scale to engage a mass audience. He took advantage of new developments in printing and befriended accomplished artists such as Cranach the Elder to help him in this effort. The result was a sophisticated melding of word and image, that helped launch a religious and cultural revolution.”

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