Martin Luther at the Morgan Library: words, images, books.

It may be said that Martin Luther was the ultimate book lover. Not only did he consider the Bible (as books-within-a-book transmitted to his time) as the ultimate source of pretty much everything, but he also understood the importance of books – especially printed -, pamphlets, words and everything else that a book may contain and generate around it. Perhaps no other figure in history managed to put the book at the centre of life, be it devotional, musical, cultural, etc. The best history of Luther’s reformation is told through the books that marked the evolution of his thought and personality and gave his legacy a firm foundation as well as the widest possible scope.

The Luther exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York (closing 22 January, so hurry) also understands the importance of books in the Luther galaxy and puts the man in orbit around the very works he produced or caused to be produced. The effect is a mind-boggling, tangible approach to one of the most important figures of European history. Better than any history book, this collection of printed books, pamphlets, paintings, drawings, etc, paints the most vivid picture of what was one of the birth pangs of our modernity.

Below are some photos I managed to take while I visited the exhibit last week. (captions to follow).

 

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Albrecht of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Mainz, Papal Indulgence for the Construction of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. Leipzig: Melchior Lotter the Elder, 1515

 

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Martin Luther, De captivitate Babylonica ecclesiae praeludium (On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, a Prelude [Latin]). Leipzig: Melchior Lotter the Elder, 1520
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Luther’s signature

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Martin Luther, September Testament, Das Newe Testament Deutzsch (The New Testament, in German),

 

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The Ninety-Five Theses (broadside)

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Luther’s autograph notes for the trial at the Diet of Worms (17-18 April 1521)

 

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