In the late 16th century, viewing an image of a saint’s martyrdom was meant to create a personal connection to the saint.
This print series features thirteen engravings depicting Christ and the Apostles (Christ’s primary disciples). In each scene, an apostle is shown in the foreground, with architecture and landscape behind him that indicate the locales in which he preached Christ’s message, from Rome to India. In the middle ground of each print, the apostle’s martyrdom is enacted with multiple figures, while the party responsible for his death—be it king, idol, or devil—looks on. Martyrdom was tied to sainthood in Roman Catholic theology, and martyrdoms appeared frequently in art made after 1563, when the Catholic Church declared that religious art should create empathetic, personal connections to the saints.
Christ, St. Paul, and the Twelve Apostles
Hendrick Goltzius, Hans Collaert the Elder, Unknown Engraver, Maarten de Vos, Aux Quatre Vents
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