Sommer Course 2016


40th International Wolfenbüttel Summer Course / 40. Internationaler Wolfenbütteler Sommerkurs

Art, Reformation, and the Cult of Martin Luther

(Herzog August Bibliothek, 4-15 July 2016)


Jeffrey Chipps Smith (University of Texas, Austin)

Application deadline: 28 February 2016


2017 will mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his ninety-five theses on the Palace Church in Wittenberg. This action by a then relatively obscure Augustinian monk and university professor heralded the beginning of the Protestant Reformation and the cataclysmic division of Christianity first in Europe and then around the world. Scholarly conferences and museum exhibitions, many loosely linked under the umbrella Luther 2017 – 500 Jahre Reformation (, have occurred with growing frequency during the lead up to the jubilee year. German state tourist boards promote travel, indeed a form of cultural pilgrimage complete with itineraries, to the towns where Luther lived and preached. Schloss Hartenfels in Torgau and the Palace Church in Wittenberg, among other Luther-related buildings, have been restored at great expense. Luther’s face is literally the face of the Reformation in the accompanying flood of publications and publicity.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Christ Expelling the Money Changers and The Pope Selling Papal Bulls and Indulgences from
Philipp Melanchthon, Passional Christi und Antichristi (Wittenberg: 1521). Herzog August Bibliothek, 171.21 Quod. (28).

This course focuses on the complex relationship of art and the Protestant Reformation in Germany and, to a lesser degree, in the Low Countries. The first week addresses the impact of the Reformation on art and, its corollary, the impact of art on the Reformation during the sixteenth century. Using the rich collections of the Herzog August Bibliothek, the class will discuss the role of religious art on the eve of the Reformation, the creation of polemical prints demonizing the Catholic Church, iconoclasm as both destructive force and catalyst for change, Lucas Cranach the Elder and the rise of Lutheran art and new iconographic themes, and the impact of Calvinism on Netherlandish art. The class will visit the Marienkirche (1608-22) in Wolfenbüttel, one of the first monumental new and richly decorated Lutheran churches.

The second week considers how Martin Luther and the advent of the Reformation were memorialized in the art of later centuries. We begin with an introduction to the historical Luther. Prints, broadsheets, medals, and other types of art were created to celebrate the first Luther Jubilee in 1617. Such commemorations, especially those tied with 1517 or the reformer’s birth (1483) and death (1546) dates, have inspired artists up to the present.  The class will examine the cult of Luther and some of its artistic manifestations, from the monumental nineteenth-century bronze statues in Worms, Wittenberg, and Dresden to Ottmar Hörl’s 800 colorful plastic mini-Luthers that were displayed in Wittenberg’s Markt in 2010. The course will conclude with a discussion about the artistic, religious, and political aims of the current plethora of recent and upcoming Luther/ Reformation exhibitions.

Ottmar Hörl, Martin Luther, 2010 (

Mornings will be devoted to presentations and workshops led by senior scholars in the field. Key readings will be circulated in advance. In the afternoons participants will be able to use the library holdings for their own work. There will be opportunities for individual and group discussions with those teaching the course. Students will be invited to present on aspects of their own research.  Nearby field trips also may be scheduled.

Course tutors:

  • Dr. Dagmar Eichberger (University of Trier/University of Heidelberg)
  • Dr. Thomas Eser (Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg)
  • Dr. Lyndal Roper (Oxford University)
  • Dr. Corine Schleif (Arizona State University)



The call for application is addressed to masters and doctoral students from Germany and any other country. The seminars will be conducted in English. The materials for study will be in either German or English but the key texts for each session will be in English.

The library offers up to fifteen places for participants and will cover their expenses for accommodation and breakfast. Each participant will receive a subsidy of 100 Euros to cover living costs. Participants are expected to pay their own travel expenses.

There are no application forms. Applicants should state their reasons for wishing to participate in the course and send a c.v. describing their academic career and their current research. Please also supply the address of an academic referee who may be contacted to provide a reference if needed. The deadline is 28 February 2016.  Applications should be submitted, preferably by email, to:

Dr. Volker Bauer
Herzog August Bibliothek
Postfach 13 64
D-38299 Wolfenbüttel
Fax-Nr.: +49 5331 – 808 266