Page images
PDF
EPUB

helps to devotion and insight afforded by her creative epochs. That is done in fact, to mention one example, when he communicates the devotional products of her lyric poetry, the songs of the old heroes of faith. Together with these present themselves the works of the plastic arts, which however have a much wider field, for they embrace in their countless specimens the whole biblical history, and extend even to all the main points of the body of doctrine, since art is able to symbolize even the most ultimate ideas. And, different as are the means employed by art in different periods, yet at all times is to be traced in the works of Christian art the piety of their authors, which cannot fail to exert a quiet and enduring influence. How this helps in the work of instruction, deserves a closer consideration. At present I would dwell on only two points, which concern the basis of this and of every department of religious instruction.

The first point is, that sacred history and the history of sacred doctrine are identical, because faith is completely bound to history. This is illustrated by a gypsum cast of an ivory box belonging in the Royal Art Hall at Berlin, and dating from the fourth century: Christ is seen sitting among the twelve apostles; and, as his attitude (in his left hand a scroll, his right raised) and the grouping indicate, he is teaching ; but what is he teaching ? On the opposite side of the cylindrical vessel is represented the offering of Abraham, which in its relation to the first-named representation affords a most simple example of geometrical symbolics : it is the circle with its points standing over against one another, separated by the diameter, but united by the curved line. So then the offering of Isaac by Abraham, different as being typical, yet kindred, exhibits the sought-for subject of the instruction, namely the person and work of the Redeemer according to John iii. 16. What is here only typically suggested, is presented as reality in another monument, a bronze crucifix of the twelfth century, formerly in Lüneburg, of which the pedestal is still preserved. Resting on four lions, it has above it a canopy, and signifies, according to

[graphic]

the inscription, the terrestrial globe. Upon the top of it lies Adam in a coffin; angels are removing the lid. This is made intelligible by a legend, full of meaning, and widely spread throughout ancient Christendom, in the Grecian church universally adopted, that the first man was buried on Golgotha, in order there to be redeemed by the blood of Christ and to be awakened from death. This is expressed in this monument by the relation of the Crucified to Adam rising out of his grave, as the inscription also declares : Adae morte novi redit Adae vita priori. The same conception with an inscription to the same effect I have found at the foot of a crucifix in the cathedral at Chur. In the first man, however, the whole race is included ; there are therefore represented in these pictures the chief epochs and fundamental facts in the history of the race, with their connections, beginning, and completion — the fall, death, and redemption.

The second point is, that dogmatics and ethics are identical, in so far as they have a common root. This is likewise shown in numerous representations of the Crucified, which are encompassed either by the three theological virtues (faith, love, hope), or the four cardinal virtues, which are referred primarily to him. In illustration of this may be mentioned a work now in the Welfen-Museum. It is a goldfoil paten, belonging to Bishop Bernward, dating therefore from the beginning of the eleventh century, afterwards reduced to the form of a pyx, with figures engraved in it:2 in the middle, Christ on the rainbow showing his pierced

ands, with the inscription: Huc spectate viri, sic vos moriendo redemi ; around him, alternately, the symbols of the four evangelists, and, in the form of female busts, the cardinal virtues. These figures too refer primarily to the person of the Redeemer; but, the vessel being designed for use at the

1 This pedestal is copied in Vogell : Kunst-Arbeiten aus Niedersachsens Vorzeit, H. I. BI. 3, 4. Vid. also my dissertation : Adams Grab auf Golgotha, in the Evangelische Kalender for 1861, p. 27.

2 Copied by Jung: Lipsanographia s. Thes. reliq. elector. Brunsvico-Luneb. p. 32 Tab. xi.

[graphic]

Lord's supper, they have a significance also for believers, who, if they show forth the death of Christ (1 Cor. xi. 26), ought to believe his word, and to translate their faith into deeds (Gal. v. 6; Jas. i. 22). So they are admonished by the apostle Peter, in opposition to those who are disobedient to the word, to show forth the virtues of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Pet. ii. 8,9), which passage is to be regarded as the theme of this art representation.

Finally, as regards church history and its monumental sources, the latter are as necessary for purposes of illustration as in the study of profane history. And not a few monuments belong to both branches ; as, e.g. the two abovementioned arches in Rome mark an epoch in church history as well as in profane history. In connection with these great architectural works we may mention a small work of sculpture, of native origin, which points out not an end, but a new beginning: a monument of the foundation of St. Gallen in the lower leaf of an ivory table dating from the ninth century. In the middle are seen the cross with the relics, as the first sign of the foundation of a monastery; then the bear, which at the command of Gallus is bringing wood to the fire ; and Gallus, who gives him bread with the order to avoid the place and retire to the mountains ; — according to a pretty legend of St. Gallen. A small beginning, which yet involves the germ of a great historic fact, that by these pious monks, where they erected the cross, the wild beasts were frightened away, deserts were made arable, and their cells became the nurseries of human culture, from which flourishing cities sprung

III. Having pointed out, in the course of study, the place where the contemplation of works of art should be introduced,

1 Of the whole diptychon there is a cast in the Christian Museum in Berlin. It is copied in one of the New Year's issues of the Historical Society of St. Gallen, under the title: St. Gallen I. 1863. The above-mentioned division of one table is copied and explained in my essay, Die Herrschaft des Menschen über die Thiere, in the Evangelische Kalender for 1860, p. 35.

[graphic]

we may in conclusion add a word respecting the execution of the plan, in relation to the requisite apparatus and the teachers. But before attempting to indicate what is needed, we will first take a view of what we already have, considering the present position occupied by these studies in the schools of learning - as to which my report must be based on what little has been published respecting it, and on what I have learned by personal observation or by correspondence.

1. As to the apparatus of instruction, the most favorably situated institutions are those in capital and university cities, where there are either large public collections or at least art museums to meet the necessities of classical philology. In Germany such collections are unconditionally accessible to the gymnasia, e.g. in Berlin, Stuttgart, Gotha (where the control of both is in the same hands), and other places. In Switzerland, where the collections belong to the capital city, but the schools to the canton, it is required that for the use of the educational apparatus belonging to the city the participants must pay an annual contribution, or the canton must pay it for them. The majority of the gymnasia, however, are in a different position, and are restricted to their own educational resources; but these are almost everywhere deficient. And a noteworthy collection of Christian monuments for the purposes of instruction in history and religion seems nowhere to exist.

The use of such collections, especially the immediate employment of them in imparting instruction, is of course greatly facilitated when they are the property of the gymnasium and are kept in its buildings. This convenience being almost universally lacking, the scholars in the upper classes in many places, where an opportunity is presented, are conducted to the collection of antiquities belonging to the state or the university. And testimony is given to the lively interest which is wont to be excited by this inspection. In this connection it should also be insisted on that the noble works of mediaeval architecture should not be entirely neglected in

[graphic]

1 A sketch of a plan for the arrangement of a collection of works of Christian art for schools has been given by me in the essay, Das christliche Museum der

justice. But even when the receipts are less, the arrangeUniv. zu Berlin und die Errichtung christlicher Museen für die Schule und 294 this department of instruction. In Marburg the scholars of the upper classes are sometimes taken by Director Münscher to the Elizabeth Church, a gem of Gothic architecture; and in Stuttgart last summer Professor Wintterlin undertook an excursion to Maulbronn with the members of the second senior class, “ in order to give them at least the fundamental ideas of the Roman and German architecture, and create a desire for independent study in this direction.”

2. The apparatus of instruction being thus found to be deficient, while yet the need of it is acknowledged, the question follows: What shall next be done? And the answer is obvious. Just this educational apparatus, that is, the foundation of art collections, both classic and Christian, must be procured for the gymnasia. The proper selection is indicated by the object, and can involve no difficulty. The limits to be observed are moreover obvious. But for the modest claims which the cause makes, both money and room are doubtless everywhere to be had. As to the latter point, whenever a new building is erected, it is easy to provide a special room ; in other cases, it will always be possible to set up a few gypsum casts, which even tend to ornament any hall; at least every school has a library room, where they might find a place. Furthermore, the matter of expense can hardly be anywhere a hinderance. The well-endowed educational institutions have such considerable funds for the means of education, both for the library, and in particular for the purposes of natural science, that a proportionate endowment for the purposes of the study of art is only a demand of ment need not fail to be made through lack of funds, since with the present means of multiplying wealth much attained by little, and the beginning is that on which thing depends. The most favorable circumstance for appadie Gemeinde. Evangelischer Kalender for 1857, p. 69 seq.

can be

1

every

« PreviousContinue »