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The History of Art

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The History of Art

Schmidt Number: S-3411

On-line since: 30th April, 2016

Art History as the image of inner spiritual impulses.

Part of 13 lectures given in Dornach between 9 and 29 October 1917.

Lecture by Rudolf Steiner

Part 4: Lecture 11

The battle of individual artistic representation amidst the demands of traditions from the South and those from the East (Icons) during the important incisive time period between the decline of the 4th and the rise of the 5th post-Atlantean epoch.

ICONS, MINIATURES, GERMAN MASTERS

Dornach, 15 October 1917

I think that it is good right now to become familiar with the most varied areas of life and the laws of existence which I have been referring to during these lectures. I want to say these laws of existence take on an importance in their realm of the spiritual life, an importance of being, which up to now has frequently not been taken into account in world opinion. Particularly in our present time it is imperative to totally understand the current 5th post-Atlantean epoch in which we stand, with all its peculiarities, in order for us to become ever more and more conscious of how affective we are within it. You know of course that we consider the beginning of the 5th post-Atlantean epoch beginning at the start of the 15th Century, from about 1413 onward. The beginning of the 15th Century was a significant, profound, incisive point for western humanity. The creation of such an about-turn which came about didn't happen all at once, it was preparatory. In the first moments of this epoch one only sees a gradual expansion. Old patterns from the earlier epochs transform into the new one and so on. Preparations were being made for a long time which were only really being experienced as a mighty reversal at the start of the 15th Century.

If we want to consider another strong western historical impact in the centre of the Middle Ages, we may look at the rule of Charlemagne from 768 to 814. If you wish to visualize everything which happened in the West to the furthest boundaries up to the time of Charlemagne, you will have difficulties with this self-visualization. For many observers of history today such difficulties do not exist because they all shear it under the same comb. Only for those who want to look at reality, will such deep differences exist. It becomes quite difficult for people in today's world of experiences and impressions to reach a concept about the completely different condition of life in Europe up to the time of Charlemagne and beyond. We may however say that after Charlemagne, in the 10th, 11th and 12th Centuries a time began in preparation of our own epoch, the 5th post-Atlantean epoch. Up to the time of Charlemagne old relationships actually flowed which in our present day, as we have already said, we can't have a true imagination. Then again preparations were beginning for a new epoch, and in these three centuries, the 10th, 11th and 12th — it started in the 9th already — events took place in Europe in all areas of life producing forces which were expressed later, particularly in the 15th century.

One can say these centuries just mentioned was a time for preparation but people today are hardly inclined to refer to this just as little as they will say Rome is in control of European affairs. The papacy in the time from the 9th century, before the middle of the 9th century where the ruling of Europe was so vigorously taken under control, where all relationships effectively extended, must not be imagined as the same effective papacy in a later century or even today. It can rather be said that in those times the papacy knew instinctively what the most important areas of life needed, in west, central or southern Europe. I already pointed out last time that the oriental culture was gradually pushed back; it had to wait in eastern Europe, in Byzantianism, in Russianness. There it waited indeed, waited right up to our present time.

General observations can develop particular clarity in those areas which, in the broadest sense, one can refer to as artistic. If you want an idea about what had been pushed back at the time to the East, what the west, central and southern Europe should not acquire, if you want to reach an understanding about it, then compare it with a Russian icon:

245 Russian Icon: The God's mother by Vladimir (Moscow, Historical Museum)

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245a Raphael: The Madonna of the Chair (Madonna della Sedia) (Florence, Palazzo Pitti)

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In the picture of the Virgin Mary of the East is an echo of what had been pushed back into the East at the time. In such a picture quite another spirit holds sway than can ever be found reigning in western, southern and central art; it is something quite different. Such an icon picture still today presents an image which has been born directly out of the spiritual world. If you imagine it in a lively manner you can't imagine a physical space behind the Russian Madonna image. You can imagine that behind the picture is the spiritual world and out of the spiritual world this image has appeared: just so are the lines, so is everything in it. When you take the basic character of this image as it is born out of the spiritual world then you have exactly that which had been held at a distance in the 9th Century from western, southern and central Europe:

246a 194 Raphael: The Sistine Madonna: The Madonna with the Child (Dresden, Zwinger)

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246 The Italian Icon: Madonna with the child, image with miraculous power “Maria Schnee” — Madonna of snow.

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Why? Such things should be thoroughly and objectively considered historically. Why did this have to be held back? Simply on the grounds that the nations of Europe — central, western and southern Europe — had completely different soul impulses which were not in the position to understand humanity out of original elementary nature, this was being pushed back, stopped in the East. The nature of the western European soul was quite differently focussed.

When this which was being pushed back to the East was transplanted into central, western and southern Europe, it could only remain external, outside the east of Europe; it could never grow together with the central, western or southern European soul distinctions. An area had to be created in western, southern and central Europe, an area for what gradually wanted to come out of the depths of the very folk soul itself.

I would like to say Rome, in actual fact, understood this with genial instinct. With disputes regarding dogmatism showing quite a different character, the content of dogma disputes is not the real story; the content of these disputes is merely the final spiritual expression. It goes much further. Among other things it was about what I have just been characterising for you. So we see that from the 9th Century and into the next centuries Rome worked ever more strongly for a space in Europe where the real striving of the folk souls could unfold. The striving of the folk souls also appeared in greater clarity.

You see, when you focus on what could have been brought to the fore if the eastern influence had not been pushed back but could stretch over Europe — Charlemagne made a large contribution - if it had stretched over Europe then Europe, as I've already mentioned, would have made available certain observations of representations which speak directly out of the spiritual world. This did not happen, firstly because Europe had to prepare itself for the materialistic 5th post-Atlantean period which was prepared most intensely in central Europe. Interest centred mainly on everything other than what came directly out of the spiritual world like line, form and colouring. Humanity was interested in something different. Above all there was an interest in Europe for contemporary events, for reporting and for results. By studying individuals, singled out in humanity, you realize they have positioned themselves in the course of historic, relatable events. The 10th, 11th, 12th Centuries can also be called the Germanic Roman Empire because from Rome the capacity was created, a capacity which spread for an interest in relating stories, an interest in the working of time and for conceptualising a particular form set in time.

You see, this is again a different viewpoint from the viewpoint I indicated in similar lectures in previous years. This cooperation of the central European empire with the Roman church and its spread is an inner image of the way the 5th post-Atlantic epoch prepared central Europe at the time. From this it is clear that central Europe prepared itself in this period with very little interest for spatial educational art. Constituted informative art became borrowed - just remember the presentation which I gave you in previous years — borrowed from what came over from the East, spread, one might say, through to the very joints of principal interest. What shot up out of the folklore itself was being told. The content which was to be told had to be taken out of national character, intimately connected with nationality.

You can encounter amazing images of central European life, life in the areas of the Rhine, the Donau and the northern coastline in the depiction of the songs of the Nibelungen, the Walthari and `Gudrun'. The manner and way in which these writings are presented indicate their obvious interest in events of the time. Look how in the time of Charles the Great when the poem `Heiland' originated, the stories of the Gospels are woven into the poem with central European characters, characters extracted from biblical events and placed directly into the central European interests of the `Heiland'. It had to be born out of the life of the European folk soul. Through this the eastern tradition, which cares little for the temporal and historical, was pushed back. For this reason, it was pushed back. If we observe how these concerns of the European nations rise from deep underground and reach the surface, then it is often only possible, and with difficulty, to really penetrate into the depth of feeling, into the deep soul experience which the European human spirit connected to in its own deepening encounter with the essential spiritual events. One might say, that which was pushed back to the East from spatial infinity and its manifestation out of space, which had to appear superficially in central Europe should reappear directly out of the human souls themselves, out of the depths of the soul, not out of the widths of space — but out of the depth of souls.

The mysterious prevailing of soul depths under the surface of direct observation was already something living at that time in human souls. During the centuries we've been talking about, people were instinctively permeated with the knowledge that their souls had in the depths of their being secret impulses, appearing only sometimes at celebratory moments in their soul experiences. Life seemed deeper than what the eyes could see, the ears could hear and so on; something unfathomable rose from soul depths as a profound experience. I could say we experience an echo of this kind of thing when we hear something as beautiful as the poetry of Walthers von der Vogelweide, who to some extend created an ending to a purely linguistic age, an age when the ability to depict formless manifestations in soul depths in a pictorial manner had not yet developed. In these soul depths we are stirred when we allow Walthers von der Vogelweide's small poem to work on us, where he speaks about his own life in retrospect. Maturing as a man when knowledge grew in his soul and light fell on his soul depths from which knowledge had previously appeared as mysterious waves in a dream, now appeared in a mood, he expressed as follows:

“Oh, whereto did all my years disappear!
I dreaming my life or is it real?
What appears for real, was it illusion's face?
I've slept so long and didn't even know it.
I've been woken and all is as unfamiliar
once was familiar, like my own hand.”

Thus speaks Walther von der Vogelweide at the end of the three long centuries, the 10, 11, 12th centuries, the epoch in which the Holy Roman Empire blossomed at the close of this time period. It was the period of time in which the interest for current events developed. Art demanded expression, images were to express events happening and going to happen in central, western and southern Europe. A glance to the East gives the impression of existence and peace, of a quiet contemplation out of the spiritual world. Events directly taking place here, born in the human soul, binding the soul with the greatest of all, the most mysterious, all this was eager to be represented in a pictorial manner. Fertilization from the South was needed anyway, where echoes of all the traditions having come from the East were still maintained. Bringing events to expression was the primary goal.

In this way striving in art was contained in the West, one might say, in two opposing streams, for certainly the representation of existence was pushed back East, but only pushed back — many things remained. Above all, something remained which can be observed in the East where strict rules determined the depiction of the icons, and old rules were being adhered to, where no violation was allowed through lines, expression, and so on. All this was transplanted into the West and alongside this was the requirement for everything experienced in the surroundings, united with traditions coming into central Europe from the South. Naturally depictions with this requirement firstly appeared in primitive, simplistic images according to biblical narratives, Bible stories. Only at the beginning of the next three centuries, the 13th, 14th and 15th did a power, one could call it, rise up out of Central Europe which could depict image-rich pictures. This power is thanks to specific facts; facts which during these centuries, the 13th, 14th and 15th, expanded and matured over the whole Central and Southern Europe as something one could call city domination, the blossoming of rural development. The cities, so proud at the time of their powerful autonomy, developed the particular powers of their folk in their midst. Such cities were not uniform, either as the old Germanic Roman Empire which was in decline, nor uniform as in the later state communities, because these cities were autonomous and could develop their individual strength according to the needs of the specific land, lifestyle and place. One doesn't understand the times of the 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries if one does not again and again glance at the blossoming of city freedom at the time.

Let us visualize this flowering of city freedom — by roughly taking the 11th to 15th centuries — and consider what this freedom in the cities discovered in relation to art impulses. Some traditions originating from Rome remained. The main issue had been pushed to the East; yet some traditions remained behind, traditions of alignment, colour application and, in relation to facial expression, the eyes and nose had to be done in a certain way. Yet all of that counteracted with the aim to represent facts. These battles had two sides, we can see it here where the artistic element first only dares to appear, turns from within itself outward, where, I might say, the trained monk from Rome allows himself to be inundated with the influence from central Europe, the impulse to not merely depict biblical events but that the imagery appearing in the Bible, which are glimpses from the spiritual worlds, are depicted in such a manner that the Bible itself becomes the very expression of how people live in daily life. This was now imposed on the monk in his solitary work. When he paints his miniatures and represents biblical scenes in a small manner, he must be accountable on the one side for the remains of tradition and on the other side, what wants to manifest as life under the surface.

Today I have two such miniatures to show you from which you will see, how during the 11th, 12th and also in the 13th Centuries the battle between traditional painting and history was still visible in small paintings.

Look at such a painting from an evangelist representing the “Birth of Christ” — we considered this image in previous years.

274 Miniature Birth of Christ and the annunciation to the shepherds (Cologne, Dom Library)

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See how much you are reminded of the tradition of mere existence. Consider how still here, I might say, these figures are shown in such a way which does not reflect how people in an outer naturalistic reality live but observe how the figures are born out of the imagination people made up of what the spiritual worlds were for them. From there the saints, the Christ figure himself appears; all this came out of another world. Behind the surface of the painting we can only imagine the spiritual world — of course pictorially and radically spoken.

Above all there is no trace of naturalism. Observe how there is no trace of perspective, no trace or an attempt in this painting to somehow represent space — everything is on the surface, all but intellectual representation. Despite all this, when you look at the single figures, you experience the urge of something wanting to be expressed. You will notice there are two things fighting with one another. Look at the face on the right and the one on the left and you will see how the eyes, maintaining something from tradition by the person in his monk cell had a thought from his teaching that somehow or other eyes had to be done, this and that way the expression had to be done — but he battled with it, he adjusted to a certain extent the view of the situation to the events.

Even in these tiny paintings made in the gospels, in books of the bible, this battle of the two elements can be seen in a struggle. Besides this you see again, for example in Cimabue even more, how existence was expressed in the oriental form. How we are absolutely reminded of the angel figures above - which already appear when it comes to Cimabue as an oriental echo of the conception of the pictorial — as a proclamation out of the spiritual world itself, as an experience of being, not of historical events!

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Another test is the second picture, which I have prepared, which comes from the Trier Gospels:

248 Miniature of Christ's birth: Proclamation to the Shepherds (Egberti Codex Trier)

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Here we see the proclamation to the shepherds, above is Christ's birth. When you take this shepherds' proclamation of the angel announcing “Glory in the Heights and peace on earth to men of goodwill”, when you take this you discover a mixing of these two impulses.

In all three of the men's faces we find the endeavour: represent the facts! On the other side however everything at a distance is about natural observation; how traditions play into this! I would like to say, feel how the wings of the angels are in the book: wings should be depicted in such a manner that they are at an angle to the main scene, pointing to both sides, and so on. You sense the requirement and at the same time sense such a depiction impinges on the endeavour which can't be achieved according to the observation of historical events. Sense this and observe in all of them how little nature observation is apparent, how there is no trace of spatial application, no trace of perspective in this image, that everything is, I want to say, or implied in the place where they are depicted due to requirements of how something like this was to be done, teach, while still substantially in control.

Now we see how at the end of the three centuries of the Germanic Roman Empire the impulse from the establishment of cities to depict history and unite it with the requirements of experiential representation, how this urge in Central Europe came to a sudden and most beautiful flowering. Cologne is one of those cities where the city's freedom flowered the most intensively and at the same time had the possibility, through intensive expansion of the Roman Catholic dominance, to take up traditional design art coming over from the East. No wonder as a result that just in Cologne the possibility encounters us in how, in the most wonderful way this comes together, weaving the two impulses into one another: the one most ancient and revered tradition depicted — what a Madonna looks like — and the urge to represent history. How a Madonna had to look like — in the East was petrified spiritually, majestic, serene, but still, solidified. It had to wait. Movement was brought in from the West. The revelation brought in from above, from heaven, revealed in the Madonna figure, is to be experienced in the Russian Madonna as magnificently elevated and permeated with something one can see directly: the greatest beauty possibly revealed in a human face, the loveliest direct expression of the ability to love, human friendliness, human goodwill, everything living in the surroundings lived in an inner relationship with the revealed figure of the Madonna.

Consider this and then look at the painting done by Master Wilhelm:

243 238 Cologne Master: Madonna with the Wicken flower (Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz Museum.)

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Here you can see what I actually want to point out: you can see how an attempt is made to bring life, that means events, into being in the Virgin Mary depiction. Here individual observation merges with tradition right into the details, one might say: old prescriptions were only applicable to attitude, nobility of form, serenity but not much further than in the expression of line, thus tradition was already being experienced from individual observation. This is what we can admire so much in these masters.

Another painting by the same master:

237 Cologne Master: Saint Veronica with the sudarium/ Veronica's veil (Munich, Older Picture Gallery)

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Another painting by the same master ... to indicate what I have just mentioned, shown in another representation. Consider just how much has come through the traditional heavenly figure, the revealed form of the Redeemer's face, of Veronica's face, in which we can see something revealed directly out of soul depths. See for yourself how those angel faces looking up are already individualized! Consider how with this image, as a result of the individualizing of figures it is no longer possible to actually imagine heaven behind it. However, something else is possible. At the back of the image, which came out of the Eastern inclination (245) we can actually imagine the spiritual world, something in addition to what the image presents. Here (237) we can also imagine something else; we must feel something different from what the image depicts. We feel much of what has gone before due to knowledge from the Bible; we feel much of what has resulted, events have been experienced and what is depicted are scenes from before and after. Thus there is not something like a spiritual realm behind it; the experience is of something before and something afterwards. When the singular is represented — visual art does this after all — then a single element is lifted out of the events. This is what we find towards the conclusion of every time period, towards which Rome out of such a deep understanding through the three to four centuries created in the European realm, which wanted to rise out of folklore. The conclusion appears to us and how this works in Cologne, by such genial Masters being capable of creating something like this.

These two intertwining impulses which I have characterised flow together most remarkably here. Now I would like to indicate their power which had worked everywhere by showing you a couple of paintings, starting with Constance who probably learnt from this and many countries through which he travelled, to arrive in Cologne and gradually became the follower of so-called Master Wilhelm, Stephan Lochner. The first is the image of the Virgin Mary — we know it already:

244 239 Stephan Lochner — Adoration of the Magi (Köln, Dom)

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In this image — you need only compare the single heads — you already notice the individualizing impulse which is fully expressed by the figures. This aspiration you can observe. You hardly see a tendency to use space; everything is on one plane, you see no possibility of somehow applying perspective, but you see the yearning, the desire and instinct which can be declared as events, fixed in the imagery, you see the desire characterized; you see the past and what will follow established in the imagery as a scene.

Now I ask you to look at the two preceding demonstrated paintings (237,238) by the Cologne masters which appeared when these masters were blossoming, somewhat around the years 1370 to 1410, therefore directly during the time the fourth post-Atlantean epoch was coming to a close. This painting by Stephan Lochner (239) already falls into the fifth post-Atlantean time. I have shown you images in consecutive order between the boundaries of the fourth and fifth post-Atlantean time.

What are the particular characteristics? Don't we see particular characteristics playing into representations in the 5th post-Atlantean time? Don't we see in the lowering gaze of Mary, the blessing little hand of the child, the differences in the right and left figures' expression, in the individual depiction of the additional figures — do we not see the characteristics of the 5th post-Atlantean time — how the character's act in the pictorial representation? Do we not see how the impact of personality arrives? Above all, don't we already here see the desire to express the element of the 5th post-Atlantean time within the imagery, the most important element for Central Europe: light-and-dark or chiaroscuro? — How little meaning the distribution of light and dark had in the old tradition! People lived in light and shadows but were not observing it, yet were feeling it - because they experienced light bringing joy, sensing life in light while darkness sank into rest, in darkness they withdrew into mysterious soul depths. This inner living in the world in the souls of single individuals which particularly comes to the fore in the 5th post-Atlantean time, as well as the application of chiaroscuro, indicate a distribution of light masses: in the middle the light is above the Child, we see this light dividing itself right and left in single masses, becoming lighter upwards, no longer completed as in earlier version only in a golden ground, but in a brightness. Thus the encroachment of individual characters is what we see here; nobody can actually look at these consecutive elements which I have demonstrated to you, without becoming aware that something, albeit quietly, but something new was coming into the 5th post-Atlantean time while the 4th post-Atlantean epoch faded.

Let us look once more at the previous Madonna:

243 238 Cologne Master: Madonna with the Wicken flower — central section.

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244 239 Stephan Lochner: Adoration of the kings, section: Madonna

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Memorise this child's face well and try to feel how much tradition still lives in it. Now consider once again another one:


241 Stephan Lochner: Madonna with the Violet flower (Cologne, Diocesan Museum)

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Look at the Madonna and the Child and note how a really new impulse has entered just like a new impulse does enter with each individual. Considering the following paintings of Stephan Lochner. I want to stress that Stephan Lochner originated from a region where most people were incapable of absorbing tradition because most of them had the impulse to develop individualism. It is the region around the Bodensee in the region of Bavaria, the area of western Austria. Here the tribes strived out of their folk nature towards individualism, mostly rejecting tradition. Stephan Lochner was lucky, one might say, to aim for the Bavarian anticipation of individual expression, where, despite the striving for the individual, there still lived the great sublime sacred tradition of olden times. As a result, his individual impulse, much more pronounced than Master Wilhelm with his radical individual urge, he connected to his revolutionary individuation impulse with the smooth, typically Cologne imaging tradition to produce this image.

For an artist like Stephan Lochner depicting space within art had not yet been invented; to depict space could simply not be done at that time in Cologne, but his soul tried to introduce this into the images.

Fully within the historical events, completely within development this can be ascertained by a comparison between the Virgin Mary image of the West compared to that of the East:

245 Russian Icon: the Mother of God by Vladimir (Moscow, Historical Museum.)

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Look at the next image:

242 Stephan Lochner: Madonna in the rose arbour (Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum)

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... which you also know already; look at it particularly in the way the specific fits into the general, so typical in Stephan Lochner's work, how the dark and light come to the fore even if there is no continual intention of capturing space, to indicate perspective, but in the chiaroscuro we see another kind of spatial capture than that of perspective. The perspective is more to the South, one could say: invented by Brunellesco — I have explained this to you in previous years.

And now …

240 Stephan Lochner: Christ on the Cross (Nurnberg, Germanic Museum)

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... in which you see there is no trace yet of composition and how here also, where the depiction would have insisted on a study of space, there is nothing about space, and how on the other side an attempt is made to depict each of the six accompanying figures as individuals, with an attempt to individualise the Redeemer Himself. Please recall the paintings of the Cologne Masters (237, 238) and compare these with the paintings of Stephan Lochner (239-242) which we have seen. It can't be overlooked how deeply this incision imprints on us what lies between the two: because this incision lies between the 4th and 5th post-Atlantean epochs. Stephan Lochner attempted to depict soul qualities, but he looked for representation in nature to find forms which express the soul. Master Wilhelm still hovered in a supersensible experience of the soul and his impressions came out of his inner feelings. He didn't depict them by looking at a model. Here (237) we still see a reference to the model in order for the soul itself to identify with it. Master Wilhelm still expresses his own feelings. Stephan Lochner is already a copier of nature. This is in fact realism: realism rising. We can clearly draw the boundaries between these two so divergent painters, during hardly decades.

So you see how the laws which we search for in spiritual science really come to expression in single spheres of life when these spheres are not taken as unimportant, but with their importance are led before the soul.

Now I would like to place this fact once again before your souls, by introducing two painters who worked more in the South. This took place in Cologne. Let us look more towards the South, to Bavaria, Ulm or the Rhine area and we will see the how conditions appear before and after the incision of the 5th into the 4th post-Atlantean epoch. I want to present two paintings to you by Lukas Moser, who lived in the beginning of the 15th Century, who can certainly be counted as being from the 4th post-Atlantean time.

Look at these paintings:

335 Lukas Moser: Ocean voyage of the Saints (from the Magdalene-Altar, Tiefenbronn Church)

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Try to sense how everything painted in it is done in such a way that one notices how the painter went through schooling which insisted: when you place figures beside one another you must place the one facing you, the other in profile; when you paint waves, you must paint them like this.

Thus you see the entire play of the sea's waves, not as they are observed, but “according to the rules”; you see the figures as prescribed “according to the rules”; nothing observed, everything composed. This image from the Tiefenbronn altar thus depicts the ocean voyage of the saints.

The following image shows the time of repose, the night time rest of the same saints:

336 Lukas Moser: Night's rest of the saints. (The Magdalene Altar, Tiefenbronn Church)

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... A medieval house built on to a church, strongly suggestive that nothing was observed but everything was painted out of the head. Look at the sleeping Saint Zedonius: he still wears the mitre as well as his gloves. It had to be painted according to the rules where the main interest is located. Consider this as an ongoing journey, because the saints are taking a trip, they sail on the sea, they rest at night, it tells a story. Yet it is presented as set out in an existed image remaining within tradition. Lazarus resting in the bosom of this mother!

We can look back to representations of earlier times when we have such an image in front of us. This is at the point where the 4th post-Atlantean time came to a close. In the West there were still prescriptions regarding how church imagery should be painted. Painting was done according to particular traditional rules. The painters obtained their method out of tradition: this is what the Saint Zedonius looked like, what Saint Lazarus looked like, Saint Magdalene and so on; they had to be painted according to prescriptions, not quite as strictly as in the East, but still according to the laws. However, he still had to depict desires, instincts and reveal a story! In this way the elements swim in and around and battle with the end of the epoch.

Let us also look back to the 13th, 12th and 11th centuries. In all the churches strict rules were set. Each picture had to look the same as another right through the whole of Christendom, only with a slight variation in the way the things were ordered. If Saint Zedonius was ordered, then he was to be painted according to prescription - that was the tradition.

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Let us now think of the incision of the beginning of the 15th Century and go from Lukas Moser, the last latecomer of the 4th post-Atlantean epoch, over to Hans Multscher and see how these painters really already stood in the beginning of the initial blossoming of the 5th post-Atlantean epoch. Look at these paintings:

339 Hans Multscher: Birth of Christ (Berlin, German Museum)

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... and you observe how in these paintings the individual-personal appear, characterising the personality. Moser does not have any desire to look at nature. Here, (399) you find an artist who strives to work out of the soul — yet who does not have the slightest inkling of spatial treatment and above all mixes up multi-coloured things in relation to space and perspective - yet who strives to characterise it out of the soul, in such a manner as if nature itself is characterised in the soul. He already tries to depict individual figures.

340 Hans Multscher: Christ on the Mount of Olives (Vipiteno Sterzing, Pallazo Municipale)

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It will become even clearer for you, what I've just been speaking about, particularly when you look at the three sleeping figures below. There is already an attempt, first of all, to express the soul element, but there is also an attempt to depict the nature of those sleeping. Compare this with what you can remember about the sleeping saints on their sea voyage (335) the resting time (336) and then you will realise what a mighty incision lies between these developments. See how the light-dark depiction is consciously brought in. Solely characterized this way and not by working with perspective does the painter reveal spatial relationships. Perspective is in fact incorrect because an actual cohesive vanishing point can't be found in any area of the painting; nowhere can a central point be found from where the layout is arranged; yet still a spatial relationship of a certain beauty exists through the chiaroscuro.

341 Hans Multscher: Burial

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Look at this “burial” scene. You find everything, even in the depiction of the landscape itself, as characterised by the individual's penetration of tradition: interest in events without any indication coming out of the spiritual world.

342 Hans Multscher: Resurrection.

Diagram HA11-021

You see here how particular individualizing elements enter the entire painting, an attempt is made in a corresponding manner to represent the guardians, the twist of their bodies enhancing the individualisation. I ask you to look up, to the left, how an attempt was made to represent the figure's particular situation, his unique experience, portraying his peculiar individual inattentiveness. Try and imagine how the painter tried to show the front view of the head, how on the right he characterises the skull of the other guardian, from behind. One can see how the attempt is made to show individual forms and also how the chiaroscuro comes in. One can see how through individualising, depiction of spatial element enters while perspective is not at all yet clear. You can imagine the point from which the individual lines go from the characters, but now you need to think apparently quite far towards the front, where the coffin is placed and you have to think again about another reference point — regarding the trees! These are painted in full frontal positions.

I wanted to show you how the legitimate developmental impulses I spoke about already last time in the Italian paintings have a profound effect and what rises as characteristic in our time, originating from the 15th Century, can only now be understood if you clearly take the entire, deep meaning of every time period, from the beginning of the 15th Century, which built the boundary between the 4th and the 5th post-Atlantean epochs.

What transformed itself here had already been living in all the events and becoming of Europe, but it was pushed back from the 9th Century because Europe was made incapable at that time; Europe first had to allow something else to take form out of the depths of its being. Those in the East waited in the meantime. We should promote an awareness today for what waited there and what wanted to rise to the surface in the East because these forces are available, these forces weave into present day events, still wanting to be active. A clear understanding of what pulsates through the world, what works in the world, we need to take possession of, this which is an urgent requirement for the present time epoch. This I am now and have repeatedly stressed in the past. Through the development of the middle age art in its characteristic time period I wanted to make this clear for you. You see, here we approach two incisive waves in history: one swell is everything which came easterly from the south, the other is, I would like to call it, coming from the depths itself. In these centuries - 13th, 14th and 15th, in the centuries of freedom in cities, what wanted to rise from soul depths to the surface was most strongly applicable. Then again from the 16th Century another setback came - development rose and fell, oscillated — and then, obviously not simultaneously, the continuation of what had been started in of the 15th Century became outwardly visible as I've indicated to you, on the one side living in van Eyck, on the other side Dürer, Holbein and so on.

We see in the lower lands, towards Burgundy on the one side and Nürnberg on the other, Augsburg, Basel, the results of what wanted to come as a wave rising from soul depths to introduce the 5th post-Atlantean period.

I wanted to introduce only one of the impulses of this 5th post-Atlantean epoch to you. About other impulses I have various opportunities to speak at the moment.




Last Modified: 12-Jul-2019
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