Divine Diagrams

The Manuscripts and Drawings of Paul Lautensack (1477/78-1558)


After the Reformation the successful painter Paul Lautensack (1477/78-1558) dedicated himself to spreading revelations on the nature of God. Lautensack was besides Dürer the only German artist who wrote against the iconoclasts, and he believed that he as a painter could explain the images of Revelation better than theologians like Luther. He presented his insights in hundreds of highly sophisticated diagrams that display a wide range of material accessible to an urban craftsman, from the vernacular Bible to calendar illustrations. This study is the first monograph on this extraordinary man, it presents a corpus of his surviving works, analyzes his peculiar theology of the image and locates the elements of his diagrams in the visual world of the Reformation period.
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Biographical Note

Berthold Kress, Ph. D. (2007) in History of Art, University of Cambridge, is Academic Assistant at the Photographic Collection of the Warburg Institute (London). He has published on Art and the Reformation and the Iconography of the Book of Daniel.

Review Quote

"Lucid, precise, and well organized are not words that come to mind when confronted by Lautensack’s obsessive and often hermetic refigurings of sacred Scripture. Yet all these qualities characterize this impressive contribution to our knowledge of one the Reformation’s more remarkable offspring. [...] Kress follows this study in contextualization with a penetrating analysis of Lautensack’s diagrammatic method. [...] In Kress’s hands, Lautensack becomes, if not altogether comprehensible, at least graspable. Despite their dealing with post-medieval material, students of medieval diagrams will find many useful ideas in Kress’s historically well-informed analyses."
Jeffrey Hamburger, Harvard University. In: Medium Aevum 84/1 (2015), p. 142f.
“This immensely impressive work of painstaking scholarship will be of interest to all scholars interested in the art, theology, and religious practice of the German Reformation and in the broader trajectories of arcane knowledge in the early modern period.”
Andrew Morrall, Bard Graduate Center. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 3 (Fall 2016), pp. 1069-1070.

Kathrin Müller, in Kunstchronik 68/5 (2015), pp. 234-240.

Susanna Berger, in Print Quarterly 32/4 (2015), p. 426f.

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
List of Lautensack’s Manuscripts and Tracts

1. Paul Lautensack’s Life and Work
I. Bamberg
II. Nuremberg, 1528–37
III. Nuremberg, 1538–58

2. Lautensack as Theological Author
I. Lautensack’s Calling and Authority
II. Lautensack and the Reformation
III. Lautensack and Iconoclasm

3. Lautensack’s Diagrams: An Introduction
I. Grids
II. Biblical Quotations
III. Lists of Names
IV. Alphabets
V. Single Words
VI. Images

4. Lautensack’s Early Diagrams
I. The Evangelists
II. Drawings for the Pater Noster
III. Drawings for the Creed
IV. Patriarchs and Apostles
V. Pater Noster and Credo in Manuscripts L, A and K
VI. Additional Tracts in Manuscripts L, A and K

5. Lautensack’s Later Diagrams
I. Circular Diagrams
II. Four-Part Divisions
III. Celestial Prodigies
IV. Innovations in the Layout from the 1540s and 1550s
V. The Limbs of Christ and Other New Subject-Matter in the 1540s and 1550s

6. The Reception of Lautensack’s Works
I. Peter Dell’s Relief
II. The Manuscript Tradition
III. Abraham Meffert
IV. Pseudo-Weigel
V. Paul Kaym and Abraham von Franckenberg
VI. The Rosicrucian Movement and the 1619 Edition
VII. Georg Christoph Brendel


Appendix: Catalogue of Drawings, Manuscripts and Printed Editions
Autograph Drawings
1. Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ 842–73, 1033–34 (D)
Autograph Manuscripts
2. Augsburg, Staats- und Stadtbibliothek, 4° Cod. 91 (A)
3. Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Hs. 79 C 4 (K)
4. London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings, 1923,0712.2 (L)
5. Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Hs. 3,147 (N)
Copies of Autograph Tracts
6. Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, RB.Msc. 166 (B)
7. Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Ms. germ. fol. 519 (S)
8. Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer
Kulturbesitz, Ms. germ. quart. 1,957 (T)
9. Hamburg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, theol. 1,231 (missing) (H)
10. London, The Warburg Institute, FHH 198 (W)
11. Halle, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, 23 B 11 (1) and 23 B 11 (2) (U and V)
12. Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Ms. germ. fol. 1,179 (Q)
13. Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, ms. VCQ 44 (R)
14. Erfurt, Bibliothek des Evangelischen Ministeriums im Augustinerkloster Erfurt, Msc. 13 (E)
Meffert’s Edition of Lautensack (-m)
15. Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, RB.Msc. 167 (Bm)
16. Breslau, Stadtbibliothek, R292 (Cm, lost)
17. København, Kongelige Bibliotek, Thott 40 2° (Km)
18. Lübeck, Stadtbibliothek, Ms. theol. germ. 98 (Lm)
19. München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cgm 4,416-18 (Mm)
20. Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, cpv 12,608 (Vm)
21. Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 35 Blank. (Wm)
Meffert’s Comments on Lautensack (-s)
22. Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, ms. VCQ 1, fols. 64v–70r (Rn)
23. Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 778 Helmst., fols. 12r–21r (Wn)
Kaym’s Edition of Lautensack (-k)
24. København, Kongelige Bibliotek, Thott 39 2° (Kk)
Anonymous Tracts Inspired by Lautensack (-b)
25. Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Ms. germ. fol. 1,070 (Sb)
26. Hamburg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, theol. 1,235 (Hb)
Further Manuscripts about Lautensack (-s)
27. Nürnberg, Stadtarchiv, Rep. E 1 / 931 (olim Lautensack 54 30) (Ns)
28. Zürich, Zentralbibliothek, Car I 262, fols. 68r–76r (Zs)
Texts Incorrectly Associated with Lautensack (-x)
29. Hamburg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, theol. 1,892, pp. 607–699 (Hx)
30. Kassel, Hessische Landesbibliothek, 4° Ms. chem. 72, fols. 302v–6r (Kx)
Lost Manuscripts
Printed Editions
1. Paulus Lautensack, Offenbahrung Jesu Christi (Franckfurt am Mayn: Jennis, 1619, prints o, t, g and a)
2. Tracts in the Unschuldige Nachrichten (Leipzig: Braun, 1711, print u)

Index of Names and Places
Index of Biblical References
Index of Subjects


Those interested in History and Art of the German Reformation,the history of Nuremberg, religious dissent, text-image relations, the history of diagrams, popular scientific imagery and early modern manuscripts.


Collection Information