About this artwork

This elaborate composition was influenced by Holman Hunt's ‘The Awakening Conscience’ (Tate, London). It depicts Luther after passing through a crisis of faith and questioning, arriving at the doctrine of Justification by Faith, just as the morning light floods in at the monastery window. The Agony of Christ in the Garden, depicted on the lectern, echoes Luther's own uncertainties, whilst the roundel portrait of the Pope, hung so as to obscure a mural of the crucified Christ, hints at the corrupt practices of the Church against which the Reformer was rebelling. The head of Luther was a likeness of the artist's wife, and there is a drawing for it in the Department of Prints and Drawings (D 5111). Paton had a large family and throughout his career they sat for him as models.

Updated before 2020

see media
  • artist:
  • title:
    Dawn: Luther at Erfurt
  • date created:
    Dated 1861
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • measurements:
    Feigned arched top: 92.70 x 69.00 cm (painted area) (framed: 121.50 x 99.20 x 13.00 cm)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Purchased 1919
  • accession number:
    NG 1230
  • gallery:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
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Sir Joseph Noel Paton

Sir Joseph Noel Paton