Verses From Sacred Scripture
"The Four Holy Men"
(at left, St. Peter standing behind St. John;
at right, St. Mark standing behind St. Paul)
Reproduced above is the last oil painting done by
completed in October 1526, only twenty months before his death in
and a gift to the then Protestant-dominated Nürnberg city
It portrays the four New Testament writers as each embodying one of
the four humours,
St. John as sanguine, St. Peter as choleric, St. Mark as phlegmatic,
and St. Paul as melancholic.
(It is now at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, Germany)
here to see a much clearer version.
Historians have argued ever since Dürer's death
whether by the end of his life
Germany's greatest artist had once again become a Roman Catholic.
They usually seek in this painting clues for resolving the
St. Peter is clearly shown holding his Christ-given
but then St. John is shown holding an open Bible
in which are clearly seen the first words to his Gospel
set out in the German translation of Martin Luther;
and St. Paul, rival to St. Peter and hero to Luther, is clearly shown
and the only one of the four with an eye on us viewers.
The question remains, did Dürer, after initially
rallying to Luther,
return to the Roman Catholic Church?
He was a close friend of both Philip Melancthon and Desiderius
the Lutheran and the Catholic who were most eager to prevent an
and his own closest friend, Willibald Pirkheimer,
most definitely did return to Catholicism by the time of Dürer's
Inasmuch as both the Protestants and the Catholics
I find this painting by Dürer of the four New Testament
of the Scriptures that simultaneously unite and divide
all Catholics and Protestants
to be the most fitting way to open a section on my favorite Bible
Click here to Send me a
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