Was Albrecht Duerer against Christianity

Albrecht Dürer: When the end of time dawned

With all the temporal proximity of the Apocalypse Edition from 1497 to the turn of the century in 1500: Few expected the end of the world on New Year's Eve at the turn of the century. Rather, oracle was an everyday practice that rarely resulted in panic. Mostly it was a pastime and was usually based on the star German. So there was no concrete fear of the turn of the century, as it was widespread around the end of 1999, when many believed that a crash of computer systems could lead the world into catastrophe.

From Dürer to Pope Alexander VI. contemporaries occupied themselves extensively with horoscopes. Coincidentally, the painter and the Pope even took advice from the same astrologer: Before his return to Franconia in 1503, Dürer's friend Lorenz Beheim had been the highest court official of the Borgias in Rome for two decades. Because Mercury was in the house of Venus on the day Dürer's birth, he was “an elegant painter; and because, conversely, Venus was in the house of Mercury ... a talented lover, «says Beheim in Dürer's horoscope.

At the same time, there were reservations about superstitious interpretations of signs - especially when it came to seeing the work of higher powers in even the smallest of peculiarities. Conrad Celtis, for example, whom Dürer regarded as his mentor, counted the widespread and often costly divination among the evil vices and the main causes of social decline: “Red wine and women and fortune telling, gambling with cards and horses and dogs destroy the most capable men . "

How much every citizen was again and again aware of the flow of time, the constant danger of sudden death and purgatory, is evidenced by the increasing number of haunting "fateful images". Dürer also benefited from the business with these "commercial graphics" - for example in the case of his "Four Witches". While generations of historians filled hundreds of pages of specialist literature and searched for the deeper, morally and socially critical depth of the engraving, we now know that it was a "New Year's sheet" that can be compared with today's Christmas and New Year's greetings. In truth, it does not depict witches, but the goddesses of the passing time, from youth to old age, from spring to winter. The year 1497 does not stand for the date of origin of the engraving, as previously assumed, but is the subject of this print: It should exhort the recipient to avoid sin in the new year and to be aware of their own impermanence: the last little hour can be yours at any time beat, be prepared at all times.

We can assume that most of the customers who, from today's point of view, valued such strangely pessimistic, but at that time ultra-modern, representations were among the educated citizens of the rapidly growing cities. Dürer's success throws an interesting light on the psychological state of this bourgeoisie and their attitude towards life in a late medieval city. From a bourgeois perspective, things were looking up. People lived in an epoch of growth, despite the terrible plague that had swept through the country about every ten years since the mid-14th century. Almost every German economic metropolis - Lübeck, Cologne, Augsburg or Nuremberg - has since doubled its population. Solid city walls offered security, and increasingly precise laws guaranteed the right of the individual in court. Craftsmen specialized, and long-distance trade could generate splendid profits, which were invested in luxury goods or foundations for the salvation of the soul.

Many families had only been living in such cities for a generation or two, which were "arrival cities," as the Canadian journalist Doug Saunders calls the positively rated phenomenon of today's megacities. Not to be underestimated, however, were the consequences of the strong civilization pressure to which the new townspeople were exposed. The numerous city chronicles, maintained since the 15th century, prefer to report serious misconduct such as adultery, bigamy, desecration of sanctuaries, rape, robbery and infanticide as well as their draconian punishment: drowning, burning and quartering. Not infrequently there is talk of uncontrolled outbreaks of violence among neighbors and passers-by, most of which were about injured honor.

To provoke the righteous God

The basis for civilized interaction with one another was formed by an Old Testament instrument that biblical scholars call the "doing-doing-connection". Medieval Christians knew it as "work righteousness". What is meant is that every action, whether good or bad, has a consequence in this world as in the hereafter. The always righteous God accordingly punishes evil deeds and rewards good works. For Dürer, this creed was also an occasion for provocation - when, for example, with his action-packed Hercules and Orpheus scenes, he lets good heroes fail and then punish them, as in the case of the gifted singer Orpheus, who is beaten to death for his homosexuality.