The Legacy of a Archbishop in Exile

For the first time the precious Treasury of St Peter and Alexander is placed on permanent display in specially designed rooms at the Stiftsmuseum in Aschaffenburg. The medieval church treasure includes objects made of silver, rock crystal and gold as well as precious illuminated manuscripts. The exhibition’s main focus is the famous Altar of St. Magdalene from the workshop of Lucas Cranach. The “Altar of Saint Magdalene”, a key work of German painting made during the time of the Reformation, arrived in Aschaffenburg in 1541 when Albrecht of Brandenburg moved to his new residence in Aschaffenburg after his expulsion by the Protestants from Mainz. In 1525 Albrecht of Brandenburg commissioned one of the most important artists of this period, Lucas Cranach and his workshop, to produce the altarpiece. Its panels depict life-size portraits of saints while the spectacular central panel shows the Resurrection of Christ. The Treasury of St Peter and Alexander is one of the most significant medieval German church treasures, and works such as the two silver busts of the patron saints of the church are internationally renowned. The works of the Treasury still illustrate the strong bond that exists between the artist or client and the concepts of Christian faith. Seen in this light the correlation between splendour and faith was not and is still not contradictory. Beholders of the Middle Ages would have seen the effigy of God’s grace and his ministry on earth in the skill of the artist and the preciousness of the material used.