Adoration of the Trinity (Landauer Altar), 1511 Oil on lime panel, 135 x 123 cm, Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienne
Albrecht Durer was born in Nuremberg in 1483, to a catholic family. He remained catholic at least for most of his life, but it seems that in his last years he was influenced by protestant ideas and may have been converted. Can we put a finger on his religious conversion as the cause to the hidden signs in his paintings?
Mattaus Landauer, rich merchant from Nuremberg, built a retirement home, and inside, a church.
The painting was ordered to be placed inside the church. Durer painted the drawing using expensive paints and also integrated gold dye into the painting.
After 3 years of work, the painting was ready and placed in the church. The painting describes the rising of the Christian people into heaven.
At the entrance to heaven we can see the Trinity: God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We can also find in the upper side of the painting, main figures from the Bible (you may notice Moses holding the Ten Commandments). The Christian believers, are organized in groups, waiting to enter heaven.
Despite the supposedly ideal scene, we can see that none of the people is interested in the ceremony. As these people are Christian, we’d expect them to show much greater enthusiasm when beholding crucified Jesus. Instead, we can find them arguing with each other and even strive to touch each other. If you ask me, these people clearly aren’t what comes to your mind when you think of the final judgement and the entrance to heaven.
This brings us to my question: What does the artist try to express by that absurd?