Historical Pictures of the Ev.-Luth. Divine Service: Mühlberg on the Elbe

Historical Pictures of the Ev.-Luth. Divine Service

A Documentation
by Helmut Schatz

English translation by Matthew Carver

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Mühlberg on the Elbe

Altar Predella by Heinrich Göding, Sr., 1569, for the former Güldenstern Abbey Church (Cistercian); now in the Mühlberg city church.
Photograph: Office for Culture and Monument Preservation, Dresden. Fig. 25.

Fig. 25: Güldenstern Abbey Church, Mühlberg/Elbe Predella by Heinrich Göding (detail) [note]An uncropped version of this image. —MC.[/note]

This altar predella depicts a Lutheran Eucharist. Here, in contrast with the early church, the black academic gown was possible for Communion distribution. On the altar are candlesticks, candles, and flagon. The altar is adorned with a piece of textile, probably an antependium, the pattern of which is repeated in the chasuble. In the painting on the predella, there is a repetition of the whole painted scene of the service, forming an “image within an image.” (See similar conceit in chapter “Opočno.”)

Piepkorn, op. cit., p. 21: “In the chapel of Güldenstern Cloister in Mühlberg on the Elbe, above the altar mensa on the base of the retable, there is a painting from the year 1569 depicting a Lutheran celebration of the Holy Supper of that period. It shows the altar dressed in a white linen cloth, the façade concealed by a free-hanging silk parament composed of different strips of material over which a broad, embroidered fringe hangs from the lip of the mensa.1 On the altar are two candlesticks, a handwritten missal resting on a small missal stand, two pieces of cloth probably to be understood as a corporal and pall, a small, unidentifiable book, and a rather large, rotund flagon. Communicants kneel on the altar steps to the left and right. The minister distributing the Host (this may be a portrait of the pastor of Mühlberg during that time) wears a black talar; the other minister, administering the chalice (he is younger than his brother in office, though he wears a beard) is dressed in a chasuble of the same material as the altar frontal, trimmed in silk, along with an ornate amice2 over an alb with somewhat wide sleeves, apparently without cincture.”

Georg Dehio, Handbuch der deutschen Kunstdenkmäler. Die Bezirke Cottbus und Frankfurt/Oder (Munich, 1987).
A. C. Piepkorn, op. cit.
Ulrich Thieme, Felix Becker, Hans Vollmer, ed. Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart Bd. 14 (Leipzig, 1888), art. “Göding, Heinrich d. Ä.”


  1. Footnote: Frontellum, aurifrisium, also known in Low Saxon evangelical ladies’ foundations, e.g., Isenhagen, Lüne, Wienhausen, etc., as a “superfrontal” [Fürleger, Vorleger]. —Author’s note.
  2. Shoulder cape of the undergarment with an embroidered apparel. —Author’s note.