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Turning the Pages: Lucas Cranach, Reliquary Book, 1509
Lucas Cranach's patron, the Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony in sixteenth-century Germany, asked the artist to illustrate a catalogue of his famed collection of saintly remains so that visiting pilgrims and dignitaries could take a souvenir of the experience home with them. Gory highlights include Saint Bartholomew's entire face, and hundreds of bones from the entourage of Saint Maurice, all presented in gilded and sculpted reliquary containers. Now extremely rare, this is the only complete copy of the book in the United States. Frederick the Wise was also the patron of the revolutionary priest Martin Luther. Luther disapproved of relics (and the accompanying indulgences that promised time off from purgatory). And so, this renowned reliquary collection was displayed for the last time in 1522, the year after Cranach's famous engraved portrait of the reformer.
16th century, religion