My Eyes in the Time of Apparition
The miraculous shepherd
World Axis with Hare around 1911/17
August Natterer, given the pseudonym Neter by his psychiatrist to protect him and his family from the immense social stigma associated with mental illness at the time, was born in 1868 in Schornreute, near Ravensburg, Germany, the son of a clerk and the youngest of nine children. Natterer studied engineering, got married, traveled widely, and had a successful career as an electrician but was suddenly stricken with delusions and anxiety attacks. On April Fool's Day, 1907 he had a pivotal hallucination of the Last Judgment during which "10,000 images flashed by in half an hour." He described it as follows:
“I saw a white spot in the clouds absolutely close – all the clouds paused – then the white spot departed and stood all the time like a board in the sky. On the same board or the screen or stage now images as quick as a flash followed each other, about 10,000 in half an hour… God himself occurred, the witch, who created the world – in between worldly visions: images of war, continents, memorials, castles, beautiful castles, just the glory of the world – but all of this to see in supernal images. They were at least twenty meter big, clear to observe, almost without color like photographs… The images were epiphanies of the Last Judgment. Christ couldn't fulfill the salvation because he was crucified early... God revealed them to me to accomplish the salvation.”
This ordeal led to a suicide attempt and committal to the first of what would be several mental asylums occupied during the remaining 26 years of his life. Natterer thereafter maintained that he was the illegitimate child of Emperor Napoleon I and "Redeemer of the World." The vision had inspired an intense production of drawings, all documenting images and ideas seen in the vision. Because of the intense and psychotic imagery, Netterer's work is more often studied scientifically than artistically. He died in 1933 in an asylum near Rottweil.