Fresco of Villa dei Misteri, Pompeii
Christ the Apothecary
This rather strange full-page illumination, which is part of a manuscript entitled Chants royaux sur la Conception (BnF, Fr. 1537, fol. 82 v), produced between 1519 and 1528, is the first known representation of Christ as the apothecary. Christ is depicted behind a counter in a dispensary, writing a prescription to Eve and Adam (note how the latter hides his genitals behind the counter while Eve is covering up with the usual fig leaf). Christ’s prescription is meant to ‘cure’ Adam’s and Eve’s original sin. The allegorical meaning of this image is clear: the salvation of humanity will be only achieved thanks to Christ’s spiritual remedies.
You can browse the whole manuscript on Gallica.
Stuttgart Playing Cards, made in Southwest Germany in c. 1430
Venus and the Three Graces Presenting Gifts to a Young Woman -Sandro Botticelli ~1486
"Die Melancholie" (Melancholy) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1532
Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Melancholy certainly draws its inspiration from an engraving executed by Dürer on the same subject in 1514. A theme often examined in art works since antiquity, melancholy, or melancholia, derives from the medical theory of four humours, whereby disease or ailments were thought to be caused by an imbalance in one or another of the four basic bodily fluids, or humours. In contrast to its negative connotations during the Middle Ages, this condition was equated during the Renaissance with the artistic temperament. In fact, many considered melancholy to be the catalyst for all artistic creation. Cranach makes use of Dürer’s motifs, but transposes them to illustrate one of Martin Luther’s sermons, which aimed to denounce this ailment as an indication that the afflicted individual was under the influence of Satan. Drink and nourishment were essential to counteract its effects.
More than any other painter of his time, Lucas Cranach the Elder (Cranach, 1472–Weimar, 1553) was heavily influenced by the ideas of Martin Luther, one of whose main proponents and protectors was Frederick III, called the Wise, elector of Saxony, who had selected Cranach as his court painter in 1504. In Cranach’s painting, several motifs remain as points of contention among scholars, especially the main winged female figure in the foreground shown sharpening a stick, most likely an allusion to idleness or indolence as conducive to melancholy.