Young Martin

On the left we have one of Lucas Cranach’s first portrayals of Luther: a youthful Luther before notoriety and infamy. In traditional Christian practice, private devotion was focused towards the saints, the intercessors who helped in daily life and who provided a pathway to the divine. When Luther was nearly struck by lightning, it was St. Anne, shown here in an early sixteenth-century sculpture, to whom he turned and made the fateful pledge that, if she would save him, he would abandon the study of law for a life in the monastery.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Martin Luther as a Monk, 1520. Oil on panel. Free State of Saxony-Anhalt (on permanent loan to the Luther House, Wittenberg).

Saint Anne with Mary as a Child, ca. 1520. Polychrome limewood. Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt.