faith and power second saxon state exhibition
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Albrecht Wing

Palace Chapel



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Martin Luther himself consecrated the Hartenfels Palace Chapel in 1544 when he delivered the first sermon ever to be heard within its walls. This edifice is accordingly one of the most significant testimonies to the Reformation in Saxony.

The Palace Chapel is the very first Protestant ecclesiastical building in history. Its sacred function is not recognisable from the outside, where it is stylistically integrated into the eastern section of the palace (B wing).

During the State Exhibition, this church will accommodate the second section of the display. As a testimony to Protestant ecclesiastical architecture, the chapel itself, along with its furnishings, will be an essential part of the presentation.

The subject of Martin Luther’s sermon from the chapel pulpit was a large-scale painting that was originally on view here: Elijah and the Priests of Baal by Lucas Cranach the Younger.

This tumultuous painting documents the theme of "Faith & Power” perhaps more succinctly than any other artwork.

It depicts the contest of faith between Elijah and the priests of Baal, in which both sides strive to prove that theirs is the only true god. Each side offers a bullock and builds a fire for the sacrifice, then invoking its respective god to ignite the fire.

In the scene presented by Lucas Cranach, Elijah’s god is responding to his plea: A mighty darting flame ignites his sacrificial pyre while the bullock of the priests of Baal lies on its altar untouched.

The identity of the true god having thus been determined, the people turn against the priests they so recently still venerated. As is visible in a scene on the left side of the painting, the priests of Baal are killed.

In vivid expressiveness and brilliant colours, this work thus renders a topic, which today has once again attained both great relevance and high explosiveness - the close relationship between faith and power.

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Lucas Cranach d.J., Elias und die Baalspriester

Elijah and the Priests of Baal

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