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The History of Art

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The History of Art

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Lecture 13

The Changes in the Conception of Christ
During a Certain Period of Time

Dornach,
October 29th, 1917

My dear friends,

I would like to speak to you to-day of the changes that have taken place over a certain period of time in man's conception of the Christ. We can, in a sense, speak of an influence exercised by the Mystery of Golgotha upon every single department of human culture, and our conception of what happened for the evolution of the earth through the Mystery of Golgotha will be the more accurate if we consider the penetration of its impulse as far,as possible independently for each separate domain of culture. It can truthfully be said that in the course of the general progress of mankind the penetration of the Mystery of Golgotha has called forth important changes in the development of Art. We shall not, however, be able to understand this fully unless we concentrate our attention on certain, what might be called intimate details in the development of the several individual arts.

If we set out to enquire when it was that men began in Europe to depict the figure of Christ, we come again and again, upon the fact that the first attempt to do so artistically was made at the moment in the development of world history when the Gospels, the literature of Christianity, reached a kind of final stage, when out of the whole mass of Gospels and Gospel traditions, certain accounts were rejected by ecclesiastical ruling and were from that time regarded as apocryphal. When the contents of the Gospel literature were complete and had begun to pass over into men's minds and hearts, there arose in the West a longing to represent the scenes and figures of the Gospels in artistic form. It is important to note the time at which this began to happen. Before the Gospels were completed and had begun to exercise a unified influence on those who called themselves Christians, the representation of Christ had been confined to what could be expressed in signatures — as you see in this picture on the screen — with the monogram of Christ in the centre, — the “Ch” and the “R”, which form the diagonal cross with the “p” in the centre, or in the form you see on the left, or in the altered form on the right; or again in combination with some animal figure. The artists confined themselves to this during the time while the subject matter of the Gospels was being unified and was gradually passing over into men's minds and hearts. We can therefore, only really speak of pictorial representations of the sacred narrative from the second or third century onwards.

1. Christ-Monogram

2. Another example of the Christ-Monogram

3. Christ-Monogram between doves

4. Altered form of Christ-Monogram

In the course of these lectures on Art I have already pointed out many things to which I must refer to-day in another connection. I pointed out that the early work in the representation of Christ still moved entirely in the forms of the old, — the antique and pagan development of Art. The forms of Art which the pagan world had evolved were simply carried over into the content of the Christian development in Art. This is exceedingly important. It may be said that up to the beginning of the third century nothing had been accomplished in the development of Western art except the transmission of the Pagan method of pictorial representation to the scenes of the Gospels. We find that men portrayed the figures with which Christian ideas were connected similarly to the way in which they had been accustomed to portray the figures of the pagan myths.

We will confine ourselves to-day to the consideration of the figure of Christ. We find that in the earliest times when men first began to portray the Christ, it is the picture of the Good Shepherd, which appears also in every variety of form in ancient pre-Christian art; that is most frequently shown. This picture on the screen, selected from a number of representations of the Good Shepherd, reminds us very much of the figure of David when he was portrayed among the animals, and it is reminiscent also of Greek representations. As we are confining ourselves to-day particularly to the Christ figure, we may note that it has in this picture a quite antique expression. We see the endeavour in it to express a benign and noble countenance, as such a countenance would be in those more ancient times, — beardless, with still unparted hair, youthful, gracious. This was what men tried to express in all their pictures: we can see how the Christian element is brought into the pagan, for everything was really still pagan in art.

5. The Good Shepard. Mosaic. (Ravenna.)

The question now arises in regard to such representations: “What is the specifically pagan element in art?” (I am speaking now from the purely artistic standpoint.) With all that has been written and spoken about art, the real fundamental “nerve” (if I may use the expression) of what is specifically pagan in art has never been described. When you study Greek art, as far as it is possible from what is extant, you will find repeated proofs that these Greek figures are not realistic in the sense in which we use the term to-day. The forms of the human organism were not reproduced by the Greeks, as might be done for a portrait likeness, nor as though any correspondence were intended to be a mere copy of the human body as it walks the earth. The Greeks had already in mind an ideal of a body and in this they incorporated something that is really quite different from what the human eye can see in the model. In order to have a right understanding of the principal Greek bodily forms in their works of art — apart from what the eye can see of form in the model — one has to remember what I told you here last year, that the Greek fashioned according to the inner feeling he had in his own body. He represented muscle not according to how the eye sees it, but according to how he experienced it, how his inner feeling accompanied the mobility, the tension and the relaxation of the muscle. He expressed in the artistic medium this inner feeling that he had from his own corporeality. How was this possible? Only because the Greek, when turning his thoughts to the bodily in man, in by far the greater number of his artistic creations, looked away from the individual soul in man, and when fashioning the human body, looked only on what was bodily. But, please note, he looked on what is bodily in man in such a way as to regard it as a product — and a spiritual product — of the whole cosmos. If you take the figure of a Zeus, of a Pallas Athene, of an Apollo, of an Aphrodite, you will find soul in it. But the soul that you find in these figures is not the individual human soul, but the soul that lives as a product of the whole cosmos, — World-soul in human form. We might say that that which the Greek regarded as soul in this realm he sought entirely outside of man as a product of the whole universe. He pictured to himself the way in which the powers of the Universe co-operate in order to bring forth the crown of their creative power — the human organism. As a concentration of the whole powers of the universe— thus did the Greek fashion the human organism. In the Greek representation of the human form in such figures a I have enumerated, we find therefore the concentrated expression of that which rules through-out all culture forming the laws for its development, and rules too throughout the whole spirit-world — the creative power of the cosmos concentrated on Man.

It might be said of the Greek that he fashioned the body in the following manner. It sounds strange, what I am going to say, but it is much more correct than one might think. Picture to yourself a man falling asleep. His soul — that is, his ego and his astral body — are outside his body, and the sleeping body is now ensouled by Universal Soul, is taken possession of by the soul nature that belongs to the cosmos, by that soul nature that was driven out of the human body during the evolution of the earth by the entering into man of the Individual Soul. Here you have that which inspired the Greeks to the fashioning of the quite special human forms in the figures that I have described. Not that the Greek was devoid of understanding of the Individual Soul, but he saw the human not yet penetrated by this Individual Soul. For him the human form was still something that was universal-individualistic. Hence the remarkable fact that the Individual Soul, the specifically human soul, really only appears in Greek art when the Greek ceases to depict those figures which, for Greek art in its prime, are typical. When the Greek portrays Apollo, or Zeus, or Pallas Athene, or Hera, or Aphrodite, he is portraying something that is a type. Then he is not portraying these, but Satyrs and Fauns, he is representing what he ascribes to the individual human, to each single soul that enters the body at waking and leaves it on falling asleep.

This is the peculiarity of the development of pagan art at its highest in Greece. The specifically human soul is not yet in the forms of art when these portray a type, an ideal. On the other hand that which operates as human soul, that which passes through the human soul as emotion, as impulse, is still in these figures (which are preferably Fauns or Satyrs) more reminiscent of the animal. When the Greek depicted the Apollo, a soul that was still super-human, super-individual lived in the artistic representation. We only find a swinging over to the human when the Greek portrays the Mercury and Hermes type. There is abundant evidence of this; you can study it in connection with. the Hermes, or Faun or Satyr type. One might say it was the conviction of Greek artists that the human soul was not yet sufficiently advanced in its development to be allowed to represent its own powers in the human body, if this human body was to come forth in its full beauty.

If we go still further back beyond. Greek art into Oriental forms of art, we find the wholly Cosmic-Universal coming to expression in the figures. So that Greek art is already the last flower of this Cosmic-Universal that man endeavored to master, in and through the human forms. It is particularly important to bear this in mind.

Now it can be said, that as Christ became a Redeemer in regard to the unfolding of the other powers of humanity, so He becomes a Redeemer also in regard to this conception of art. Let us imagine that a Spirit has asked the question: How can that be idealized, which formerly men only dared to express in the above-mentioned digression from the type of the ideal, in the Faun and in the Satyr? How can it be raised to an ideal, so that something artistic, something spiritual and at the same time human, may come to expression? How can the specifically human be redeemed with regard to form? How can that be idealized which they did not want to idealize in ancient times, which on the contrary, they placed in antithesis to the divine as the all-too human? This question was certainly never expressed in this way on the physical plane. But it has been answered by the progressive development of art; it has been answered in the history of mankind.

It will always be a very interesting fact that the man who made such a deep impression on Greek life that his destiny, as it were, prefigured the destiny of the Redeemer — I refer to Socrates — does not, according to tradition, represent a Greek type of the ideal, but rather something of the Satyr or the Faun. It is as if world-history itself desired to work up the specifically human first from the sub-human.

So, then, we see that the further progress in the development of form consists in this: that the Ideal Human, which does not yet break through in what we may call Greek counter-art — the art of the Faun and the Satyr — tries to help itself to break through by endeavouring to seize on the form of man which formerly men had only wanted to derive from the Cosmos. The Individual-Human breaks in upon what had been fashioned solely in accordance with spiritual lines and forms obtained from the Cosmos. We must still seek for the Oriental forms entirely in the cosmic and for the Occidental in the Individual-Human.

So we see that the change to the Christ-type comes at the very moment when men wanted to overcome the pagan, and the specifically human made, as it were, its entrance into the Cosmic-Typical-Universal. Note carefully the way in which this gradually enters the Universal.

6-7. Socrates (London, British Museum.)

Here we have a Representation of Christ from the earlier Period of early Christian art, already with a beard, though many of the Christ figures of the succeeding centuries are still beardless, But we see here that, emphatically, the endeavour is no longer to realize only the cosmic in the figure, but the cosmic strives with the individual which is working its way upwards. The cosmic still preponderates, but only as tradition. That which has been taken over from the Oriental and Greek still preponderates, and it continues to do so for a long tine. This penetration of the specific, of the Individual-Human, into the figures comes about only by degrees.

8. A Christ Representation. (Rome, Catacomb of Pontain.)

The next picture that I have to show you is Christ amongst the Apostles. It still belongs to the first centuries, and there you already see how the endeavour is arising to retain in the whole arrangement of the picture the lines that originate in the Cosmos, but how, here too, something specifically human enters in. This is how the singular conflict arose which is of such peculiar significance in those early centuries, the old conflict as to how Christ should be represented — whether in such a way as to correspond more to the beauty of an Apollo, or whether it was permissible to represent Him as having individual human soul. This latter was what men endeavored to do. And a singular thing happens — one of those instances of swinging over (we have in the last few days learned to know an instance in another domain). For in representing the individual-human, men were exalting the very thing that was formerly taboo. This is developed to the highest degree within the stream of Greek art, whilst in the West, in Latin regions, we find the continuation of what was so truly Eastern, — the fashioning of a certain cosmic type. This was at a time when the development of Western art was nevertheless on the wane and when men were no longer able to represent anything with purity.

9. Christ with the Apostles (catacomb painting.)

And so it came to pass that in the representation of the Christ Form itself, the Oriental, the Byzantine type conquered and the individual Christ was not introduced. But because the development of art was then declining, it can be said that this type degenerated, it did not retain the august dignity that the East had desired to bestow upon it, but acquired something of what tends to lower mankind, tends, to drive the human qualities into a kind of degeneration. The hair was parted, the beard assumed peculiar shapes, the facial expression was such as to make it clear that the super-human, the cosmic, was to be overcome, and overcome just through the human. But men were not able to raise and fashion this human into a kind of Ideal-Type.

We see this when we allow the other Christ pictures to make their impression upon us, even for example, this very beautiful Picture of Christ by (?) in Ravenna, where we certainly see great beauty still — the cosmic-universal — but where the attempt is already being made to introduce the human.

10. Christ with Angels. (Ravenna.)

This stands out still more clearly in one of the most notable pictures — one by Montreale. It is a picture that makes a profound impression through the wonderful power of the mosaic. But also just in this very picture, the conflict between the two currents that I spoke of is seen, and because of this conflict the picture is one of the most interesting that are extant.

11. Christ. Mosaic from the 12th century.

All this is connected with the general course of human development. We see as in a looping line, the individualistic jumping over to the East, and the cosmic, which is becoming abstract, passing over to the West. The cosmic, note, grows abstract as it passes over to the West. To understand this we must transport ourselves entirely into the mentality, into the whole soul life of Rome. Let us consider what this Rome was. We must first free ourselves from all that is to-day inoculated into a cultured person when he absorbs Rome through his life at school, — for our whole culture really comes from Rome. We must not forget that the real content of Rome, if we are considering the first great period of its development, was drawn from Greece for two hundred years, until its prime under the Julian emperors. About a hundred and fifty to two hundred years before the Mystery of Golgotha, and for some time after, Greek art and Greek culture were being appropriated by this unimaginative Rome. The duality in which Rome was always great was just this transmission of the cosmic — grown abstract — to human affairs by means of the peculiar “looping” process that I mentioned. There arose in Rome the talent for founding world dominion, the special talent that in ancient times — before the “looping” interchange took place — had been the characteristic of the great Oriental kingdoms of the third post-Atlantean epoch. This now passed over to Rome. “World. Dominion” was the ideal of Rome. To dominate the whole of the then cultural world was the ideal of the time of tine Roman Emperors. Rome had taken the content of this idea from Greece which had now progressed so far as to have the longing to fashion something individual. But to Roman mentality this longing of the Greeks was a thing of ugliness. So that, though the Latin took over the Greek type, he resisted it to begin with, because he desired a beautiful type and this did not impress him first by its beauty, but rather by its ugliness. The Latin still remembered the Faun and Satyr types which were intended to be raised to the level of the highest human. For, while, to a certain extent the cosmic type of the Zeus, the Apollo, the Pallas Athene, the Aphrodite, fell into decadence within Greek life and thought, that which formerly had only been represented in the realm of the ugly was now being raised to the ennobled floral beauty that they were then striving to attain.

The reason why in the West the influence that emanated from Rome did not produce a quite different Christ-type for itself, but only a further development of the pagan Apollo-type, is to be ascribed to the fact that during these centuries the artists in Italy had no special artistic inventiveness of their own — in fact, had never possessed it — for the Roman mind is, in its essence, devoid of imagination.

We can then go further, and find whole centuries that lie fallow, with appropriation by Rome of Greek culture, but at the same time decadence in its own. A period of hope only arises again when Augustus appears — this time it is Christianity that is taken over from Greece. Once more the same phenomenon. Rome sets about wresting the spiritual domination of the world to herself, but again appropriates the content of what came over from Greece.

This synchronized with the period in which Jerome translated the Bible into Latin. In the succeeding centuries everything really emanated from Rome, so much so that it became their aim to make Rome the centre of the terrestrial human world order, and impress this social structure upon it, — a cosmic one, but now grown completely abstract. And a parallel in Art, as far as one can speak of art at all at that time, was carried on into the thirteenth century by building again and again just what they themselves desired to build, from impulses that flowed over from the East. We see this period close with forms of art (including also the pictorial representation of Christ Jesus Himself) that brings nothing new, but merely transport the Graeco-Oriental Type to the West. This is in essence what we see brought to expression in Cimabue.

Now let us keep in mind the form that the Christ-type assumed in the thirteenth century.

12. Cimabue. Christ on the Cross.

Here you see in Cimabue something which makes all the pre-ceding centuries flow together in your soul. You see how that which has been taken over from the Orient into the Greek still lives here. We see how earth is connected with heaven, how heaven is just as active in its being as earth is. And we can see those two currents that I spoke of, still mingling their streams, even in the figure of the crucified Christ. This found a place in art, in a world that could not of itself be artistic ally creative but received the positive stimulus for imagination from the East. (Unfortunately this picture is not very distinct.) The next one that I will show you is already a Giotto, and it is more distinct. You can see the Giotto picture literally growing out of the earlier picture. You still see heaven co-operating in its Beings with earth. But not everything that is to be fashioned from the Universal of the world into the terrestrial, has as yet been brought down to the level of earth. But we already see the terrestrial, it still pulsates ashamed and bashful, in the Satyr and Faun type of Greece — rising higher, extending its dominion, becoming idealized and asserting the human. For that which was striving to rise, might only show itself to the world when it was permeated by Christ.

13. Giotto school. Crucifixion. (Assisi, San Francesco.)

It may be said that three different things can be distinguished. First those forms in which characteristics of the cosmic soul nature are expressed. We find these in ancient art. Then we find them in conflict with the human soul qualities at the first appearance of Christian art. We see them still in conflict in the form that we have before us. The cosmic still shines through everywhere — I mean the spiritual-cosmic, not the Copernican material-cosmic — but at the same time the specific human soul qualities are struggling up from below; that which, emanating from the soul, gives the body its form, is aspiring to reach the surface. So that would be the second thing that I have to stress — where both are in conflict, where the human soul nature opposes the cosmic soul nature. Perhaps in no other artist do we see this conflict so intensely as in Giotto. That is why it is always interesting to watch this struggle just in Giotto. On the one hand he is quite definitely striving towards the model. There is a strong naturalistic vein in him, but he has also still in him the general forms, received from the spiritual world, which were so entirely characteristic of Cimabue.

The next picture. Here you have another Crucifixion. The former was not even a genuine Giotto, but may have been by another hand. Here you see Giotto in his most characteristic vein. Heaven is still retained and is still fully co-operating. But you see, even here, how into the farm of the Redeemer something has already entered, which in the manner of fashioning the body, imparts a strain of soul suffering. (And that is our chief interest to-day.) There we see the human already entering in, which we most certainly do not see in any figure of an Apollo.

14. Giotto. Crucifixion. (Padua, Arena Chapel.)

Dear friends, if I tell you now an objective fact, I beg of you not to take it amiss. I do not like saying in these times what I have now to say; but I should be mistaken in you if I really believed that you would take it ill. An investigation undertaken in the pursuit of truth has yielded something quite special in the way of result. If, in a picture such as this one of Giotto's, we see a new element entering into the old traditions — an idealization of that which the Greeks could only bring to expression unrealized in the Faun and the Satyr, the raising of the human to an ideal — if we perceive that in Giotto, then we must place him essentially in contrast to his teacher and master Cimabue who still continued to fertilize his Roman mentality from the East. Now, how did an entirely new element enter? Just at this point comes the difficult thing to say that I mentioned. There spread itself out over the outer borders and confines of Europe what really originated in Central Europe, and what we have often seen originating there — the impulse, the new impulse, to portray the individual human in the aspect of soul.

Very little old Roman blood flows, for example, in the veins of the modern Italian, very little indeed. But very much of Central European blood has flowed into him. One has only to study history in its external records. That is where the fertilization came from. What lives in Giotto as a naturalistic principle, originated through the fertilization of the unimaginative Roman mentality with what came from Central Europe. Rome is really only great in ideas that concern themselves with the formation of the social structure in the sense of an abstract cosmology. What can actually be called “State” is in essence a true Roman product and has been fashioned from out of Roman mentality. The state with its desire for expansion wherever it arises, is a copy of that which was bound to spring from the Roman mind as its own particular creation.

We pass on to the next picture: Giotto: Christ:

15. Giotto, Christ Enthroned. (Rome, St. Peters)

We see here a Christ — once-again it is a Giotto. I selected it because in it Giotto was especially eager to take over the old type from the East. But just look at this face, how much of the individualistic he has introduced into it? Look at each finger of the raised right hand, how much of the individual soul he has brought into it everywhere; how much of spiritual-naturalistic in the best sense, lives in it. Gradually something is entering into Southern art that blends with the Oriental, the cosmological-oriental; something enters in that is to be found in its purity in Central Europe without the cosmological and drawn exclusively from the human soul.

The next picture is again a Giotto: The Baptism.

16. Giotto. Baptism of Christ. (Padua, Arena Chapel.)

Here too you see heaven still working with the earth. But if you look attentively at the Christ-figure, you will find how Giotto is at pains to bring soul to expression in the Divine form, not only in the face, but in the whole form, in the poise of the head, in the gesture of the hands.

Here again we have another Giotto: The Last Supper:

17. Giotto. The Last Supper. (Padua, Arena Chapel.)

You see the Christ on the left, with, certainly, the shadow of the Greek Christ-type coming partly to expression; nevertheless the attempt also is there to exalt what is individual and of the soul. We find it entering in everywhere. And so we come upon the remarkable fact that the two currents — both highly artistic — the Oriental and the Central European (which is still dependent on the old Persian impulse) give each other a rendezvous, so to speak, on an inartistic, unimaginative ground which is only fitted for the construction of states.

Another Giotto: The Entry into Jerusalem, which I have again selected with the intention of bringing the same phenomenon before you. By fixing your attention on the Christ in these different biblical scenes you will see how Giotto is at pains to bring the soul to individual expression.

18. Giotto. The Entry into Jerusalem. (Padua, Arena Chapel.)

Then a Crowning with Thorns, by Giotto:

19. Giotto. The Crowning with Thorns. (Padua, Arena Chapel.)

We wanted to show you these changes that the Christ-figure went through in the course of centuries. Remember the first groping attempts which we found in early Christian art. A great deal, certainly depends on the material used, but what is remarkable is that it was turned to use at all for these ideas.

Now, a Resurrection, by Giotto:

18. Giotto. The Resurrection. (Padua, Arena Chapel.)

You will find what I told you of the confluence of the two currents demonstrated everywhere. But at the same time you see the intensity with. which the Greek ideal of the Christ continues to operate; for it is still everywhere present as the background of the creative powers of the artist.

Now we get a little further. I have chosen a picture by Orcagna this time from the fourteenth century, which sets before us Christ as the Judge of the World. It is the Last Judgment, a picture from the Church of Santa Maria, in Florence. Here you see alongside of the still manifest retention of the old type, an attempt at a complete individualism, with a delicate delineation of soul.

19. Andrea Orcagna. The Last Judgment. (Florence. Santa Maria Novella.)

We are already in the fourteenth century with this picture. The different streams of the development of human culture move at different rates of speed. We see up to this time not only the continued influence of the Greek Christ-type, but also something of the powers of inspiration contained in Oriental art. It may be said that in all these pictures there has not yet come to expression what, with full historic right, had been preparing its way ever since the ninth century in the Roman Church Universal and in Roman world-dominion. (I am not making a criticism but merely stating facts.) Greek influence still lived in art, mixed with but little Central European. Rome understood perfectly well from the second half of the ninth century that it wes bound to do so. They knew that the East must be dammed back, as I once phrased it. The West had to be penetrated with that which was striving to work its way up from the depths of the life of the Western peoples. We see a tendency of thought arising here that I have characterized as “the conception of the Free City,” that had Central Europe as its starting point and spread over many other territories. In the idea of the “Free City” there was an urge to bring the specifically human soul element to expression. It was understood in Rome in the ninth century that this European impulse had to be reckoned with — and they did reckon with it. But that which now passed through the institutions of the Church Universal and constituted the specifically Western form of Catholicism in contrast to that which was dammed back to the East, really came for the first time to expression in the marvelous Fra Angelico, who made art and painting so truly Catholic. Here, if we have an understanding for such things, we see the Western Catholic element poured out over art. The difference between the former picture and this one, as well as between the former “Last Supper” and this picture, is enormous. For a Western Catholic sentiment pervades this picture as well as a lovely and gracious art. You see the forms to which the sacrifice of the Mass has been brought, insinuated into the composition of this picture, as well as the remembrance of the Supper before Golgotha. You see in the composition not only the Last Supper before Golgotha, but the continuation of the Last Supper in the Catholic Sacrifice of the Mass. The Catholic feeling of the Last Supper is poured out over this picture and especially over the figure of the Redeemer. Here for the first time in art, the Redeemer becomes the model for the Western priest. In reality, in external reality, He was that earlier.

20. Fra Angelico. The Last Supper.

So we now see the Church Universal of Rome spreading her dominion over art as well, in a most decided manner. We can still say of Giotto that he brought the offering of art to Francis of Assisi from a free, individual soul; here in Fra Angelico we see one who paints in the same way as he reads the Mass in San Marco in Florence. The aura of Catholicism pervades these pictures. It is no longer the individual offering, but the Church paints with him. You see this no less in the next picture.

21. Fra. Angelico. The Crucifixion.

Catholicism collaborates in the painting of this picture as well.

Please look carefully at the next picture where you can see how the essence of Catholic art, this Catholic power of organization, is so alive that even in the Last Judgment, the power of the Catholic Church carries its organizing as far as the realm of super-terrestrial Beings.

22. Fra Angelico. The Last Judgment.

We find the same feature to an enhanced degree in another monk whose painting of Christ and the Apostles I would like to show you. And we see here the third stage of this interesting process — a rejuvenation begins, due to the renaissance of ancient Greece. We find ancient Greece appearing again.

23. Fra Bartolomeo. Christ and the Four Evangelists.

And so we see how, for a period of time, the Christ-type, comprehended as having individuality and soul, gradually prevailed. Take the whole appearance of the Christ figure as it developed from something within which cosmic powers at first were dominant, but which then took on the individual soul element, transformed the Greek impulse more and more, and became increasingly individualized. And how this Christ has become individualized my dear friends!

Now we see how the antique encroaches anew — very little as yet, but it is there. Once again there is a struggle, out from the characteristic into the “Type” form of beauty. And you can observe this continuously. For that is really the secret of the Renaissance. In so far as these last pictures that I will show you become the starting point for the Renaissance artists, we see in these Renaissance artists a complete rejuvenation of Greece, we see Greece rising again but not entering into that which had been won and achieved by the development in art of the individual.

24. Andrea del Sarto. The Last Supper.

Here we have a Last Supper: by Andrea del Sarto. It is in Florence. Again beautiful forms; thus introducing once more something of the traditions of the cosmic into the figures, but without the consciousness of the cosmic that the Greeks had. Only from tradition and not by the direct gaze, the immediate perception of the Greeks. This is what we find here, and it goes on developing and becomes Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Michael-Angelo. You can see here in process of becoming, what Leonardo da Vinci, especially, has become. You see it in process of becoming in the next picture:

25. Baptism of Christ. Verocchio, Leonardo's master.

I have the same motif to show again in:

26. The Baptism of Christ. Masolino.

And now we will put the Baptism by Giotto on the screen again. Look at this Baptism where you still have the conflict between the two principles without the ancient Greek influence, without the Renaissance, and where the Christian influence is particularly strong.

16. Giotto. Baptism of Christ. (Padua, Arena Chapel.)

And now we will throw the two others on the screen again. You see the effect of the Renaissance, and then, from Verocchio comes Leonardo. Leonardo may even have collaborated in this picture.

25. Baptism of Christ. Verocchio, Leonardo's master.

I would like finally to show you just two more pictures, where you can see that which came over from the North, from Central Europe, and mingled with all the other influences that I have shown you. Here we have a pure Nordic product of the North, The Man of Sorrows, the Christ, by Dürer. Here we have the endeavour to represent the Man in Christ, without any suggestion of the cosmic.

27. Dürer. Man of Sorrows.

If Fra Angelico poured Catholic sentiment over his creative work in art, we see here, in contrast to it, the revolt against the Catholic world-dominion; we see that which desires to fashion its Christ out of the human individuality. Only one single individual paints this picture. When Fra Angelico was painting in the San Marco Church in Florence, the whole of Catholicism was painting with him. Here one man works from out of his own idea of the Bible. And that has remained — here. Later, the Renaissance came, but that which mingled with the other currents moved Southwards.

I have one more picture, Christ on the Cross: Dürer which will show you the same thing.

28. Dürer. The Crucifixion.

These things ought to show us how the Christ figure changed through the centuries. I have shown only these two pictures from the later centuries. I would like to show you the further development of the Christ pictures in future lectures when it is possible to give them. For a world history could be written since the Mystery of Golgotha simply by describing the changes in the representations of the Christ. Everything that really happened is expressed there — truly expressed; and one could follow this study right up to the present time.

As for the present attempts at representing Christ — I saw a whole collection of them years ago in an Exhibition and one was more hideous than the other. What is being attempted at the present time is a reflection of all that is taking place, and that has led to the chaos in which we are living. And if, without actually intending, as I explained recently, to create a Christ figure, the attempt is made here to carry again into the spirit world what is expressed in these figures — in plastic form, as a first attempt; in painting as well as can be done with our limited resources — then what we do is inherent in the further evolution of the true line of culture in accord with the realities of human development. It is a very good thing to fertilize one's mind at the present time as far as possible, with these ideas drawn from the realm of art, and in that realm too, to take a little trouble to come nearer the truth. For many idols are being worshipped, that are only worshipped because people have no gift for really seeing the truth.

At this juncture when it is possible to say that four fifths of the world are allied against one fifth, and when this is accepted with the indifference with which it is accepted, there are abundant reasons for some revision of the ideas that have been taken from the historical evolution of humanity.

We shall speak of these things again another time.




Last Modified: 12-Jul-2019
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