[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib



Highlight Words

The History of Art

Schmidt Number: S-3411

On-line since: 31st August, 2016

Lecture 11

Fourth and Fifth Post-Atlantean Epochs, Medieval Art in the
Middle, West, and South of Europe

Dornach,
October 15th, 1917

I think that it is an especially appropriate just now, to become acquainted with the most varied areas of life, with those laws of existence which I have indicated in these lectures. I express them by saying: these laws of existence enclose in their realm what in the spiritual life one might call “the weight of things, the weight of beings”. Very often, that which has up to now presented itself as “world view”, has kept this “weight” out of consideration. For the present time, it seems necessary to me to understand clearly this present, this fifth post-Atlantean time in which we live — to understand it with all its peculiarities, in order to arrive ever more consciously at being effective within it. You do know that we figure the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean age from the start of the 15th century, roughly from 1413. This means that the beginning of the 15th century is a significant cut, a deep cut, in the evolution of occidental humanity. However, a change such as has taken place there does not take place all at once. It prepares for itself. And one can see this gradual growth of the new period by observing the beginning of that new epoch. Old motives from the earlier epoch pass into the new one. What really did experience this powerful transformation at the beginning of the 15th century prepared itself for a long time.

If we want to consider another powerful change in the accident's historical growth preceding the middle-ages, we might look at the reign of Charlemagne, 768 to 814. You might find some difficulties with this, if you want to make alive in you all that has occurred in the wide surroundings until Charlemagne. It is true that for many who consider history at present such difficulties would not exist because everything is considered to be the same. However for him, who want to look at reality, such deep differences do exist. And one must say: It will certainly be quite difficult for a person of today (said in 1917) to achieve a concept of how life in Europe was of a totally different nature up to the time of Charlemagne. But if we consider the total of this time until Charlemagne, then we can say that after Charlemagne, in the 10th, 11th, and 12th century — it was already observable in the 9th — things are happening in Europe in all parts of life, which bring forth forces that come to expression in later time, from the 15th century on.

Now it might be said that for the time of preparation, for the centuries just mentioned, Rome holds the guidance of European matters to a greater degree than one is prone admit nowadays. But one should not visualize this Papacy as being, in its activity and effects, like the Papacy of the later centuries or even of the present time. One can rather say that the Papacy at that time knew instinctively what West-, Middle-, and South-Europe needed for the most important elements of life, what West-, Middle-, and South-Europe really needed. And, as I already pointed out in the previous lecture, that the Oriental culture was held back in a sense. It was to wait, was to wait in the East of Europe, in Byzantinism, in Russianism. And there it did wait. It waited until our present age.

What can be said here in general terms shows itself with special clarity in the realm which in a broad sense maybe called the artistic period. And if you wish to receive a concept of what was being pushed back in those times, was pushed back toward to the East, then compare a Russian icon

1. Russian Icon, The God-Mother of Wladimir.

2. Raphael, The Madonna Della Sedia

3. The Sistine Madonna

The picture of Mary which comes from the East presents totally still a last sounding of that which was held back at that time, held back to the East In such a picture, there rules a totally different spirit than did ever rule in the West, or the South, or Middle-Europe. Such an icon presents still today, a figure which is really born directly out of the spiritual world. It is not possible, if one visualized in a living way, to visualize a physical space behind it. One is forced to imagine that behind this picture, there is the spiritual world, and this picture is looking out of this spiritual world. This is the character of its lines. So is everything within it. And if one considers that basic character of such a picture, how it is born out of the spiritual world, then one grasps what needed to be kept away from Central Europe, from West-, Middle-, and South-Europe especially, from the ninth century on.

4. Italian Icon: Madonna with Child

Why? Such matters must be considered objectively as a historic question. Why was it necessary to keep it distant? The reason is simply that the Europeans, the people of Middle-, West-, and South-Europe had totally different abilities, totally different soul-impulses. They would not have been in the position to understand out of their original nature what in fact had been pushed back towards the East, what had been held back. The nature of the West-Europeans, the soul-nature of the people of West-Europe was directed towards something totally different. And if that which was pushed back to the East would have been transplanted to Middle-, West-, South-Europe then it could only have remained something superficial. It could never have been combined truly with the soul-properties of the Middle-, West-, and South-European. It was a necessity to make space in this Middle-, West-, and South-Europe for that which, in a sense, wanted to rise out of the depths, out of the depths of the Folk-Soul.

With the instinct of a genius, Rome actually understood this, even though the arguments concerning the dogmas showed a totally different content. The content of the dogma-arguments are simply not the content of the whole and true history. But for what was truly the question, the arguments concerning the dogmas were, what I would call, only the last spiritual expression. The real considerations were much broader, among others what I just characterized. And so we see that from the ninth century on, through the following centuries, there was created by Rome a space with a strong hand, so there could be developed what their Folk-Soul was striving for. But that for which the Folk-Soul was striving showed itself with great clarity.

You see, if one takes a look at what would have come about if the Easter approach had not been pushed back but had stretched out all over Europe — Charlemagne actually had made a beginning for this — something would have come over Europe in a superficial way. I already have said this — a certain looking at substance like things (Steiner used a word, which is not a usual German word: Gegenstandlichkeiten, an English equivalent might be “substancelynesses”) which are breaking out of the spiritual world immediately. This was not to happen for the time being. For in Europe, there was to be preparing the materialistic fifth post-Atlantian"time-space". And this had prepared itself just in this Middle-Europe in the most significant way. Interest was directed above all to something other than line, form, and color which are speaking immediately out of the spiritual world. The interest was above all directed to matters occurring within time, to what plays within time, to what can be told, to what is an event.

And even when considering a single being, a single person, one looked at him totally from the point of view of how he stands in the sequence of events which are suitable for being told. The period of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries therefore also can be called the time of the Roman-German Emperors, because then there spread, from Rome, just this interest for telling things, the interest of forming, of being active in this particular time.

You see, this is again a different way of looking at it than the points of view I stressed last year, that is in the previous cycle of lectures on these subjects last year. This “working together” of the Middle-European Emperor with the essence of the Roman Church and its expansion, that is definitely the inner image of the manner in which that tine, the fifth post-Atlantean age in Middle-Europe prepared itself. Hence we see that in this Middle-Europe this time space prepared itself in such a way that, to begin with, there really existed very little interest in the spatially forming arts. You will remember from many descriptions which I gave you last year, that spatially forming art was brought here from the Orient, then spread, I would like to say, “through the cracks” of what was the main interest. That which was grown through lived in the local people themselves, that is being told, And what was to become a tale the people wanted to accept and have it with their folk-custom.

Just look, how splendid pictures of middle-European life — the Rhein area, the Danube area, the area of the Northern coast — we do meet in the descriptions of the Nibelungs-, the Walthari-, the Gudrun-Song. You can tell the interest for the events of the time from the way these poetic songs are given. And just look how in the Heliand, in that poetic tale which was created after the age of Charlemagne, how there were woven-in the tales of the gospels in figures of European Character. Observe how there, really the character of the biblical events was taken up by the immediate interests of Middle-Europe. That which lived in the European folk-souls was to be born out of these folk-souls themselves. Therefore the oriental tradition was pushed back. This tradition relates to the age only very little. It relates very little to history. Hence it was pushed out of the way. And then, if we see how these European Volkinterests come to the surface out of the deep folk-believes, it is difficult for us. It is today often possible only with great difficulty to involve ourselves deeply into that inner warmth, into that soul-connection with which at that time the European's spirit connected his own deep feelings with the important spiritual events. One would like to say, “What was held back into the Orient points out into spatial endlessness, and what it describes comes out of the widths of space.” That which was to surface in Middle-Europe was to come up straight from the human soul, from the depths of the human soul itself, not from the widths of space, but from the depths of soul.

The secretive workings in the depths of the soul, below the surface of immediate perception, this was a thing which truly lived in the souls at that time. In those centuries mentioned, people were deeply penetrated by the thought that such a human soul carried at its fundament hidden, unknown, impulses, which surfaced only occasionally, in moments of the soul's inner celebration. Of this, people of those centuries were deeply convinced. They felt in a way, that life is deeper than what the eyes see, what the ears can hear etc., that this comes from bottomless depths. And I would like to say that we perceive a kind of resounding of this when we hear something beautiful, such as a little poem of Walther von der Vogelweide. He certainly is the ending of the age of pure speaking, of that age where the ability did not exist to bring that to expression in image form, which sounds imageless in the soul's depths, and we are moved by this depth when we allow a verse of a poem of Walther von der Vogelweide to speak to us, where he, as an old man, looking back upon his life, does speak of his own life. When he had matured, when wisdom had entered his soul and cast many a light upon the soul-depths from where earlier only secretive depths had sent their waves as in a dream, there a mood came upon Walther von der Vogelweide which he expressed in the following way:

Oh dear, where have all my years disappeared to!
Is my life dreaming or is it true?
What seamed real always, was it a dream?
I have slept a long time, and do not know it myself.
Now I have awakened, and to me is unknown
What before I knew as well as my other hand.

“Oh weh, wohin entschwanden alle meine Jahr!
Träumte mir mein Leben, oder ist es wahr?
Was mir stets dünkte wirklich, war's ein Traumgesicht?
Ich habe lang geschlafen und weiss es selber nicht.
Nun bin ich erwacht, und mir ist unbekannt,
was sonst mir war so kundig wie meine andere Hand.”

So does Walther von der Vogelweide speak at the end of this time-space of 300 years, (The 10th, 11th, 12th, centuries), the age of blossoming of the Roman-German emperorship, which ended with this time. It is that time, when the interest of what was happening was growing especially strongly. The art of Middle- West- and Southern- Europe demands presentation, picture-expressions of occurrence, of development. Looking towards the East, one finds the expression of existence, of being present, of calm, of the calm looking down from the spiritual world. What was happening here in Middle-Europe, into which the human soul was born there, where the human soul was connected with the greatest, the most secretive, that also urged for pictorial presentation. For that, however, it needed the fertilization from the South, which had still retained the memories of old traditions that had found their way over from the orient. To express that which is occurring, that was then what was striven for above all.

And so there existed two opposing impulses in the occident's striving concerning the arts. Because, although it is certainly true that describing of what exists was pushed back to the East, where the icons need to be formed according to strong rules. And other things also had regulations which were taken up from old usage and against which it was not allowed to act, concerning the usage of the lines, the expressions, etc. All that also found its way into the occident. But along with it there exists the need, the desire, to connect whatever was experienced in the surroundings with that which had come as tradition, via the South, to middle Europe. Of course what was formed first through that desire for pictures was the simple, primitive picturing of biblical tales, of the biblical history. Only in the three following centuries, the 13th, 14th and 15th, there arose to Middle-Europe the strength, of what I would call “pictorial picturing”. This strength we owe to a specific fact. We owe this strength to the fact that in those centuries, in the 13th, 14th, 15th centuries, what made its growth above all in Middle- and Southern Europe was what we might call the “Rulership of the Cities”, “the flourishing of the Cities”. Those cities which were at that time proud of their forceful sovereignty, they developed in their midst the forces specific to the people. And because those forces were not applied uniformly, neither into the old Roman-German emperorship, which at that time was in a period of descend, nor into what later was called the “Community of the State”, because these cities were sovereign within themselves, they could develop specific forces exactly as was necessary for the individuality of the grounds, and for the way of living in the most specific locations. The time of the 13th, 14th, 15th centuries cannot be understood, without considering again and again that it was the time of the blossoming of the Freedom of the Cities.

Let us now think ourselves into this “Blossoming of the Freedom of the Cities”, in what this “City-Freedom” came to regarding the artistic. Certain traditions had been retained from Rome. The main part had been sectioned away to the East. But certain traditions had remained. Such traditions were the character of the lines, of the use of color, of the expression of the face. Eyes had to be painted in a certain way. Equally, the nose had to be painted in a specific way. But all this conflicted with the need to picture that which is happening. This fight of the two impulses we can observe where — I would like to say — the artistic dares to come forward for the first time, where it begins to come out, where — I would like to say — the monk trained in Rome allows himself to be overtaken by what comes to him from Middle-Europe, from the inner call to show the biblical matters. This showing was not only so that the figures which occur in the bible as though they were looking out of the spiritual world are seen, but so that the biblical itself is a picture of how the human being lives among human beings. That is now given as a task to the monk in his lonely work. When he painted his miniatures and pictured there the biblical scenes, he had to account on one hand for the rest of the traditions, and on the other hand on the forming of life which wanted to move on the surface.

Today I have two examples of such miniature-paintings to bring to you, from which you can see how in the 11th, 12th, century — it is also visible in the 13th — that there shows just in this small kind of painting, what is traditional painting in the battle which is now happening.

Look at such a picture out of a prayer book which shows “The Birth of Christ.” We know this picture already from the last year. (Lecture VII)

5. Miniature: Birth of Christ and Annunciation to the Shepherds

Look how much of it reminds you of the tradition of simple existing. Look at how here still — I would like to say — the figures are pictured so that they have not included what man observes in the outer, naturalistic reality in which we live, but how the forms here are still all borne out of the image of the spiritual world, which the human being has envisioned. There, the Saints come, there the Christ-Figure itself comes, everything still comes out of another world. Behind the picture-surface we can imagine nothing but the spiritual world, naturally spoken radically, and as an image. Not a trace yet about what reminds one of naturalism! Observe how there is not a trace of perspective, not a trace of an attempt to picture space in any manner, everything on a flat surface, but still picturing everything spiritual. And yet, when you look at each figure separately, you will Observe, though it is done clumsily it is there — the effort to express something. You will observe that two things battle with each other. Look at the eyes at the figure on the right, and you will observe there something of tradition, that he who painted in in his cloister-cell still carried in his mind the instruction: You must picture the eyes in a certain way. The expression must be this and that... But the painter was already fighting this. In a sense, he already adjusted the glance to the situation, to the event.

Exactly in this kind of small paintings which have been used for the Gospel-, for the Bibles, we see those two principles battling each other. Next to it, though, you will see what still can be seen so strongly by Cimabue, namely the Oriental forming of existence. The angel-figures up here are presented in an Oriental way. We are definitely reminded up here of a speaking out of the spiritual world itself, of a description of existence, not of what is happening. It is only an oriental echo of the idea of the pictorial in painting, already at the time of Cimabue.

The second picture is another I prepared. It comes from a prayer book in Trier.

6. Miniature: Birth of Christ — The Announcement to the Shepherds

Here you see the “Announcement of the Shepherds” below, the “Birth of Christ” above. Exactly when you see this “Announcement to the Shepherds”, where the angels announce to the shepherds the “Gloria in the Heights and Peace on Earth to the Human Beings of Good Will”, then you can definitely find the mixing together of these two impulses. How already at the three faces of the men we meet the striving: Let us picture what is happening! How the tradition still has its effect! I would like to say, “just feel it from the wings of the angels up there, that there was written in a Book.” Wings must be formed in such a way that they run at an angle against the main scene, that they point to one side, and other advice like this. You do sense the rules, and at the same time you feel in such a description the breaking in of a pressure, which cannot really be active, of the pressure towards observation of what is happening. Do get the feeling for this, and observe with all of this, just to see how little observation of nature is present, that all of this is only, I would like to say, only lives as a possibility, while rules, prescriptions how to do such a thing, were still thought of as essential.

And now, we see how in the course of three centuries of Roman-German Emperorship, and before the founding of the cities something happened. The desire to picture what is happening in combination with that which is prescribed, leads in middle Europe, with a certain suddenness to the most beautiful flourishing. Cologne is one of those cities, where the freedom flourished most intensively, and where it was possible at the same time to accept, by intensive spreading of the Catholic-Roman way, to accept that which had come out of the East in the old traditional art of creating forms. No wonder then, that just in Cologne we are met with the possibility to bring together in the most wonderful way, to weave together, the two impulses. There was the matter of the ancient, honorable tradition, where one knew through it “This is how a Madonna looks.” and there existed the strong desire to show through pictures what is happening. What a Madonna has to look like! In the East this had become rigid in spirituality, majestic, dignified, but fastened in spirituality. It needs to wait. The motion is brought into it in the West. That which had come down from heaven as manifestation of the Madonna-figure, what lives in the Russian Madonna so grandiosely dignified, is penetrated by what one can see immediately. What is shown is the most beautiful that can manifest in the human face, the dearest, immediate expression of the human ability to love, of human friendliness, human well-meaing, all that, which lives in the surroundings in the warmest connection with the honored figure of the Madonna.

Visualize this, and then look at the picture a master of Cologne painted, which is thought to be by the so-called “Master Wilhelm”.

7. A Master of Cologne, Madonna with the Bean-Blossom

Here you can see what I want to indicate. Here you can see how there is the attempt to bring into the presenting of Mary the life, the idea that something is happening, becoming. Here the individualistic observation is carried into the traditional, down into all details. I would like to say that one sees the striving to consider the old rules only in regard to their attitudes, noble figures, majestic figures, but no longer down into the carrying of the lines. That is, the tradition is already enlivened by the individual observation. This is what we can admire so much by this master.

And now, the other picture by the same master,

8. Master of Cologne. The Face-Cloth of Veronica.

Which shows what I just explained through another example. Just think how much of the traditionally secret form is contained in this picture of the Redeemer's face, of Veronica's face. One can clearly see immediately that it is a manifestation out of the depths of the soul. Try to make it alive for yourself how individualized those angel faces below are already. In this picture, it is no longer possible to imagine the heavens immediately behind it. But something else is possible! Behind that picture, which came out of the oriental thinking one can immediately visualize the spiritual world — something else yet than the picture actually presents. Here, it is also possible to visualize something else than the picture shows. One senses much of what has happened before, of what one knows from the bible. One senses much of what has to follow. One senses that something is happening. And what is shown is a scene from a before and afterwards. So, what is felt, is not a spirit-realm, but something like a before and after. Even if each single thing is shown — the pictorial arts must do this after all — yet each individual thing is singled out of what is happening. That is what, I would like to say, “meets us” as the closing of that period in which Rome, through its deep understanding, has created space in Europe through three or four centuries, for that which wanted to come out of the “folk-nature”, out of the character of that group of people. What this master who worked in Cologne, who had such high talents, has created, appears to us like a conclusion of all this.

So here, this flowing into each other of the two impulses which I characterized, shows itself especially clearly. And now, in order to show you the forces which were active there everywhere, a few paintings of that painter who came from Konstanz, where he probably was taught, and who then went through other countries, learned many a thing, then arrived in Cologne and became, in a sense, the follower of that Master of Cologne, Stephan Lochner. The first painting is a picture of Mary, we already know it. ( Lecture III)

8. Stephan Lochner, The Adoration of the Kings.

From this painting you see the desire to bring to complete expression the forming through the individual figures. All you need to do, is to compare the heads with each other. You can see this effort. It is true that you still see no possibility to utilize space. Everything is on the surface. You still see no possibility to apply any kind of perspective. But you see the longing, the drive, the instinct, to hold fast through pictorial presentation that, which one could be telling, as something which is occurring. You see the drive to characterize. You are looking at a before and an after. You see presented as a scene, what is described pictorially.

Now I would like to consider that the two previous pictures, which we have shown the pictures by the “Master from Cologne”, are pictures from his time of highest achievement. That is about from the year 1370 to 1410, hence just at the time, when the fourth post-Atlantian Age finds its end. This picture by Stephan Lochner already is of the fifth post-Atlantian age. What I have shown you then, are pictures of following ages. Between them lies the border between the fourth and fifth post-Atlantean time-spaces.

And what is the most characteristic element in these pictures? Can we not see the fifth post-Atlantean epoch playing into these special characteristics? Don't we see it in the eyes of Maria, when they glance down? Don't we see it in the blessing little hands of the child, in the different facial expressions of the right and the left figures? Don't we see there, what becomes the most characteristic element in the fifth Post-post-Atlantean age: Including the personality, the individuality, into the pictorial presentation? Can't we see here the entering of the personality? And above all, don't we see here already the longing to bring to expression that which is the most important for Middle Europe, what in this fifth post-Atlantean time is in regard to painting the most meaningful element for Middle-Europe, the Dark-and-Light in which the human being lives. It is the time when the human being does not only see, but in which he also feels his life because the light brings him joy, because the light brings him life, because he goes to rest with the dark, because in the dark he draws back into secret depths of soul. This living in the world of single individual souls, which appears particularly in the fifth post-Atlantean time-space, this we see also in the appearance of the light-and-dark, in the dividing of the light-masses. We see in the middle the light above the child. We see this light dividing itself into left and right, into individual masses, becoming light towards the height, not anymore just finding, in the previous manner, just the gold-ground, but in the lightness.

What we also observe here is the entering of what is individual, personal. This is what we observe here. And no-one can really look at the sequence of these things which we have just presented, without becoming aware that, even if only very gently, something totally new is entering as the element of the fifth post-atlantean time-space at the time of the dwindling off of the fourth post-Atlantean age. Let us look once more at the previous picture of the Madonna:

10. Master of Cologne, Madonna with the Sweet Pea (detail)

Keep this child's face well in your mind, and try to feel how much of tradition still lives there. And now we will look once more at the other one:

11. Stephan Lochner, The Adoration of the Kings (detail)

Take a look at the Madonna and the Child, and see here how there has truly come a new initiative, how a truly new impulse of an individual approach enters. And it is the same with the following pictures of Stephan Lochner, where I stress specifically that Stephan Lochner does come from the area where there was the greatest resistance to maintain the tradition, since it was there that the strongest drive existed to form what is individual, what is considered right by the person. It is the area around the Lake of Constance, the area of Southern Bavaria, the area of Southern Austria. There lived the tribes which, according to their nature, strove for what is individual, who resented most what is traditional.

Now Stephan Lochner was fortunately combining with this, what I would like to call “South-German Intensity” to aim towards the individual approach while there was still alive the great, deeply holy tradition of the elders.

Because there lived in him the revolutionary urge more strongly than it lived in the “Master of Cologne”, there did live in him the individual urge, to bring forth this picture. through connecting this revolutionary, individual inner urge with the smoothly typical of tradition. So he painted this picture

12. Stephan Lochner, Madonna with the Violet

For such an artist as Stephan Lochner, the art of space had not yet been invented. Picturing space, that was not yet a skill in Cologne, but there was the attempt to bring the soul into what is being painted.

And one can relate these things completely to the happenings of world-historical development, when comparing such a picture with a Madonna of the East:

13. Russian icon: The Divine Mother of Wladimir

Now look at the next picture —

14. Stephan Lochner, Madonna in the Rose Garden

which you also know already. (Lecture III) Look especially how this joining into each other, this working into each other what is individual and what is generally typical, is particularly noticeable by Stephan Lochner, how in his work the light and dark is already notable, although there is definitely no effort to master the space, to acquire perspective. But in the dark and light we see another way to master the space than is achieved by perspective. And of course, it is just exactly in the South, where, one might say, perspective was invented by Brunellesco, as I explained to you last year.

15. Stephan Lochner. Christ on the Cross

Here you do see, how actually there is no trace of composition, how even there where the picture would have encouraged to study the space, there is nothing concerning space,and how on the other hand, there is the attempt to form individually everyone of the secondary figures, even to individualize the Savior. Do remember, please, the paintings of the “Master of Cologne” which you saw before , the two pictures and compare them with the four paintings of Stephan Lochner you saw before.

It is unavoidable that you receive a deep impression of what stands between the two. For this is the difference between the fourth and the fifth post-Atlantian ages. Stephan Lochner seeks to picture with soul, but he already seeks to find the forms through which the soul expresses itself within the creations of nature. The Master from Cologne was still hovering in a supersensible form experience and this he expressed from out of an inner feeling. He does not express them through looking at a model. Here, you can already note a looking at the model, so that the soul shows by itself what it has to say, how it presents itself. The Cologne Master is still an expresser of his own feeling. Stephan Lochner is already an imitator of nature. That, in fact is realism. There, naturalism shows itself. And we can draw as sharp a border between the two approaches as we can draw between the two painters who are really barely decades apart.

You see that the laws, which we seek to understand through Spiritual Science are really expressing themselves in the various spheres of life, if one can place them before one's soul, not with weight, but with weightiness.

And now, I would like to place this fact before your souls once more, by showing you two painters who were active more in the South. What has been presented just now happened in Cologne. Now we are looking more to the South, to Bavaria, to the area of Konstanz, Ulm, or the Rhein. Let us see there, how the situations before and after this incisive change through which the forth post-Atlantian time-section is separated from the fifth show themselves. There I would like to let you see to begin with two pictures by Lucas Moser who lived in the beginning of the 15th century, and can definitely be included in the fourth post-Atlantean time space.

Look at this picture:

16. Lukas Moser, The Saints' Trip Across the Ocean

Try here to feel how everything there is still painted so that one notices: If you do paint figures next to each other, you must paint one “en face” the other one in profile. If you paint waves, you must paint them this way. You see there the whole playing of the waves of the ocean not observed, but painted “according to prescription”. There you see the figures ordered “according to prescription”. There you see nothing painted after observation. All this is one thing put next to the other. So, this picture from the altar of Tiefenbronn, then, shows The Saint's Travel on the Sea. (A part of the Magdalen Altar in Tiefenbronn. (Lecture 8 )

The next picture presents “the Resting, the Nights Rest” of the same Saints.

17. Lucas Moser, The Saints Rest

You see a house of the middle-ages, built by a church. You will probably notice how little anything there has been painted by observation, how everything has been drawn from memory. At the left, at the sleeping St. Zedonius; he wears the sleeping. He still wears the glove. Everything was “according to order”, and what really carries the main interest is placed almost secretly only. Just think, this is a continuous trip the saints are making, a travel of the Saints. They “travel through the sea” they have a “Night-rest”. It is a story. And still, what there has become a picture, totally shows a tradition. Take a look also at Lazarus there, resting in the lap of his sister!

When we have such a picture before us, we can look back to what was shown in earlier times. This, then, is the end of the fourth post-Atlantean Age. In the West also, it was prescribed how such pictures in churches were to be painted. The painter received, so to speak, the order out of the traditions: This is how a St. Zedonius looks, or a St. Magdalen, this is how a St. Lazarus looks, etc.. This he had to paint. That was prescribed, not as rigidly as in the East, but prescribed nevertheless. But he needed also to look at the drives, at the instincts, at the interests, and was to create tales. That is how things swam into each other, they battle with each other at the end of an age.

So we are looking back into the 13th, 12th, 11th century. In all churches, there was pictured what was strictly prescription. One picture looked like the other, all the way through Christianity, varied only a little according to how things were requested. Once St. Zedonius was ordered, he was being painted how it was prescribed. That was the tradition. Now we visualize the cut, the beginning of the fifteen's century, and go on from Lukas Moser, who was the last of the fourth post-Atlantean time-space, to Hans Multscher, and we see how this painter now really stands totally in the beginning, in the dawn, of the fifth post-Atlantian age. Look at this picture.

18. Hans Multscher, The Birth of Christ

There you have again the appearance of the individual, the personal. With Lucas Moser, you do not see the slightest desire to look at nature. Here you find a person, who, in spite of having not the slightest idea of any way to work with space, in spite of the fact that everything is freely mixed together, that he has no idea about space or perspective, who characterizes from out of his soul, but the way that nature itself does characterize. He already attempts to form, to picture, individual figures.

19. Hans Multscher, Christ at the Mount of Olives (now ascribed to the so called, “Master of the Sterzinger Altars,” probably a co-worker of Multscher).

What I have just explained, will strike you in this picture, especially if you look at the three sleeping forms below. There already is the attempt to bring to expression the nature of sleeping. Compare that with what you can remember of the “Saints on the Ocean”, “at rest”, then you will see what powerful change of the dev elopement lies between the two. And look, how consciously the dark-and-light penetrates into the picture. Then, simply and only through this, not through any kind of perspective, the painter achieves an organization of space. The perspective is definitely incorrect, for there is not even a single clear point of view. Nowhere will you find a point from which the whole situation could be considered organized, but there is an organization of space, which even is of a certain beauty, through the dark-and-light.

20.Hans Multscher, Burial

(Now thought of as a work of the “Master of the Sterzinger Altar”, probably a co-worker of Multscher)

Look at this “Burial” You will find that everything, down to the treatment of the landscape, is as it needed to be described as the entering of the individual into the traditional. What shows, is the interest in what is happening, not merely the interest to picture that which comes out of the spiritual world.

20. Hans Multscher, Resurrection

You see here that individualization enters into the whole picture, through the attempt to present the guardians in a corresponding manner. The turning of the bodies is to contribute to the individualization. Please look at the one up there on the left, how there is an attempt to create a special situation, a special experiencing of carrying out ones own kind of not-paying attention in an individual way. Try to see how the painter attempted to show the head of the one guard from the front, how he shows the other one with the head from the back. One can see has there enters the striving to form in an individual way.

Also one sees the dark-and -light entering. One can see that the effort is made to give form to the space by means of individualizing, for perspective does not exist yet. If you want to visualize the point from which the lines of vision go to the figures, you will have to think of them fairly far forwards. For the sarcophagus however, you will have to think of it somewhere else again, and for the trees! They are painted in a completely frontal view.

I wanted to show you that the lawful impulses of development are deeply effective. I spoke of than already the last time, when showing the pictures of Italian painting. Also I wanted to show you that one can only understand what is characteristic for our age from the 15th century on, by clearly understanding the whole deep meaning of that age which formed the division between the fourth and fifth post-Atlantean epoch at the beginning of the 15th century. All that transformed there was already living within what was happening and growing in Europe from the ninth century on. At that time there was held back that, which Europe was not capable of doing because out of the depths of its being it needed to give substance to something else. But that, which was held back towards the East has been waiting since. Developing a consciousness of what has been waiting there and what wanted to come to the surface in the West. This, people ought to make their task, for those forces are definitely existing still. These forces are still active in what is occurring today, they want to be active still. And to acquire a clear understanding of what pulses through the world, of what is active in the world, is a pressing necessity for the present age. I have stressed this now, and really did stress this again and again for quite some time. I wanted to make this clear for you today through the description of the development of the art of the middle-ages at this characteristic span of time.

You see, there we arrive at, I would like to say, two waves of occurrence. One wave is the one which still is bringing upward something with the character of the East from the South, the other did, I would like to say, come by itself out of the depths. And in these centuries, the 13th, the 14th, the 15th century, the centuries of the “Freedom of the Cities”, there that which wanted to make itself come to the surface from the souls depths was most intensive. Then, starting at the 16th century there was a drawing-back — evolution goes in waves, evolution oscillates. Of course this did not become known widely right away, for the continuation of what I showed you about as developing in the 15th century, that lives on one side in van Eyck, on the other side in Dürer, Holbein etc.

We see in the Netherlands, towards Burgundy, on the one hand, on the other side we look towards Nuremberg, Augsburg, Basel, and we see the effect of what wanted to happen. We see the wave which moves up out of the depths of the souls, in order to help begin the fifth post-Atlantean age.

I intended to present to you only one of the impulses working within this fifth post-Atlantian age. About other impulses I am speaking, as you know, just at this time, at the most varied occasions.




Last Modified: 02-Dec-2018
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com
[Spacing]