Adelheit Pfefferhartin (c. 1350)

  • Devotional images and visions

    The writings of Meister Eckhart and Heinrich Seuse had a great influence on the spirituality of convents in the area around Lake Constance in the 14th century. This new piety also influenced art.

    Around the year 1300, devotional images - Pietàs, baptisms of Christ, and crucifixes - were created in convents which were to enable a 'most devotional encounter' between the praying nuns and God. This silent contemplation of images is said to have produced visions, light apparitions, and levitations in some of the nuns, such as the one named here.

    As Seuse explained, this mystical union with God could not only be achieved with pictures but also through a picture-less vision of God by the soul. The only purpose of the pictures was to drive out existing images. And images could help to create an intimate relation to the divine in a first step of mystical ascent.

    The works shown here can be attributed to the 'Mysticism of the Lake Constance Region'. Some of them are from the Dominican convent in St Katharinental near Diessenhofen on the Rhine where Seuse also worked.