Rudolf Steiner Archive 

Awakening Anthroposophy
in the World

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Dornach, 5 October 1917

The artistic representation of imaginative-spiritual imagery of the Fourth post Atlantean epoch moving towards the start of the more materialistically orientated 5th epoch. Raphael: “Disputa” and “School of Athens”.

Raphael's “Disputa”: -

The experience of Raphael's “Disputa” revealed, in its time, a deep truth at the beginning of the 16th Century, but this experience is no longer possible today. Raphael painted for some 28 years under the influence of both older popes, Julius II and Bramante. Within his paintings the method of observing the evolution in Christianised humanity, through imaginative cognition, came to an end. The re-discovery of America, the invention of the printing press and Copernican theories changed the world view and the essence of Raphael's art was no longer openly accessible. This was a historic necessity. Spiritual impulses were suppressed by Europeans in order for their culture to unfold; the Greek orthodox and Roman Catholic churches split. Spiritual impulses were directed back to the Orient. The West wanted to constitute the Christian realm as an empire. Pope Julius II understood this empire as a sign for what the spiritual world was in reality. Raphael, a man of the 5th post-Atlantean epoch, artistically depicted his opposition of the 4th epoch in his “Disputa” painting which is explored thoroughly in this lecture, against Luther's penetrating rally against the senses. The colour and form-rich testament of the south in Raphael's imagination is replaced by the formless musicality of the north without gesture — pushed back from the south. In contrast, the endless perspective in the “Disputa” display the so-called “School of Athens” gathered in an enclosed room: the divine is confronted with what the human soul can experience. Those who look, contrast with those who speak, in the central figures. The figure of Paul as a problem for Raphael: seeing turning into speaking.

Dornach, 15 October 1917.

The battle for individual artistic expression in the middle of the assertion of traditional eastern (Icons) from the south during the important period during the decline of the fourth and the rise of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. Icons, miniatures, German Masters.

The change in direction of the 15th Century had been prepared for a long time. An important event in the historical development of the Western world happened during the reign of Karl the Great around the year 800. The papacy took hold of the leadership of Europe, the central European empire cooperated with the Roman Catholic Church. In contradiction to the fending off of the eastern artistic influence and that of the southern central Europe there were Icons and Raphael's Madonnas. Room had to be made for what the folk soul needed to bring. This was committed to memory in the northern regions in poetry of the Nibelungen songs, in Heliand and Waltkers von der Vogelweide. Art demanded image-rich expressions of events yet also felt itself bound by rules which came out of southern and central European traditions. The battle between these two streams is particularly clearly seen in miniatures, the initials of the 5 saints. The city culture brought the power of individual expression. In Koln, painting in traditional art design was urged to depict events by weaving in the eastern influence. Two more strongly divergent impulses are apparent in southern Germany (altars of Tiefenbronner and Sterzinger). Two strong streams of events are evident at this point in the development of Medieval art: from the south an Eastern influence; the other rising from the depths of the folk soul itself.

Dornach, 22 October 1917.

The echoes of the three main influences of the fourth post Atlantean epoch, growing together in time with city culture towards the gold and gemstone art worked into the fifth epoch: old Christian sculpture, sarcophagi and relief. Bernward von Hildesheim.

In the present war filled time there is an echo of the third and fourth post Atlantean epochs working into the fifth. Characteristic of the fourth epoch is the interpenetration of the spiritual into the sense perceptible: the beautiful human form extending itself into space, gracefully moving in time. In lively artistic expression Christianity is depicted as an opposition to death. Now the inner, spiritual impulses of the third post Atlantean time rose as rich in symbols. The beautiful Greek emotive statuette of “The Good Shepherd” opposes the still awkward image of death in three crosses with the forms in front of them: the freestanding Greek forms are pressed together into one composition. In the early Christian sarcophagus sculpture the image-rich composition become increasingly rich in symbolism. Example of the monogram of Christ in connection with the plant and animal motifs. In the Egyptian culture of the 3rd post-Atlantean epoch the priests received the words as revealed from above, the same as the northern priests throwing runes. In the sarcophagi reliefs, in the ivory carvings, etc. the natural depiction coincided with the symbolic meaning. The Magic of signs: the supersensible permeating the sense perceptible — as such it was claimed by the church. The magic of what was hidden in the earth: gold and precious jewels as symbols. Gold and precious gem art in the rise of city culture. The gold-mystery in the Nibelungen saga. A new understanding of the Christ impulse permeated with the gold mystery is necessary in our chaotic times; this is also learnt by those who have a spiritual sense towards the development of art.

Dornach, 29 October 1917

Transformation in the understanding of Christ in artistic representation: Old-Christian painting and mosaic. Italian masters. Dürer.

The artistic representation of the Christ form beginning in the 2nd, 3rd Century after the completion of the Gospels. The Christ monogram becomes surrounded by forms of ancient artistic developments. Application of the pagan to scenes in the Gospels, the Christian representation linked to the pagan myths: for example “The Good Shepherd”. The specific pagan: the human body permeated by the universal soul-spiritual. In the Greeks is the last development of the cosmic-universal art form to be found: individual humans in satyr form. With the development of the western Christ-type the general-cosmic predominated for long and individual-human element contributes. The Roman tendency to make the human individual abstract allows no expression for the human individual, up to Cimabue. In Giotto specific human soul qualities flicker through the cosmic spiritual. With Fra Angelico a western-Catholic element is poured over art. Later a newer Greek influence appeared in the rise of Renaissance. By contrast Dürer came without all the cosmic impact: The human being within Christ. A new endeavour in wood sculpture for the Goetheanum was created.

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