A magnificent faith: art and identity in Lutheran Germany

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book explains how and why Lutheranism—a confession that insisted upon the pre-eminence of God’s Word—became a visually magnificent faith, a faith whose adherents sought to captivate Christians’ hearts and minds through seeing as well as through hearing. Although Protestantism is no longer understood as an exclusively word-based religion, the paradigm of evangelical ambivalence towards images retains its power. This is the first study to offer an account of the Reformation origins and subsequent flourishing of the Lutheran baroque, of the rich visual culture that developed in parts of the Holy Roman Empire during the later seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The book opens with a discussion of the legacy of the Wittenberg Reformation. Three sections then focus on the confessional, devotional and magnificent image, exploring turning points in Lutherans’ attitudes towards religious art. Drawing on a wide variety of archival, printed and visual sources from two of the Empire’s most important Protestant territories—Saxony, the heartland of the Reformation, and Brandenburg—the book shows the extent to which Lutheran culture was shaped by territorial divisions. It traces the development of a theologically grounded aesthetic, and argues that images became become prominent vehicles for the articulation of Lutheran identity not only amongst theologians but also amongst laymen and women. By examining the role of images in the Lutheran tradition as it developed over the course of two centuries, A Magnificent Faith offers a new understanding of the relationship between Protestantism and the visual arts.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages305
ISBN (Electronic)9780191800993
ISBN (Print)9780198737575
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2017


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