Lucas Cranach the Elder

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Lucas Cranach the Elder (1550), according to the inscription at the age of 77, painted by Lucas Cranach the Younger or possibly a self-portrait ( Uffizi Gallery , Florence)
One of Cranach's signatures
Gemäldegalerie Berlin, German Painting Room, Cranach

Lucas Cranach the Elder (* probably around October 4, 1472 in Kronach , Upper Franconia ; † October 16, 1553 in Weimar ) was one of the most important German painters , graphic artists and book printers of the Renaissance . From 1505 he was court painter at the Electoral Saxon court under Friedrich the Wise , Johann the Steadfast and Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous . In addition to numerous altarpieces and allegorical paintings, he and his workshop also made a large number of portraits of his employers and the reformers Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon . The Cranach workshop, which is believed to have left around 5,000 paintings, was continued by his son of the same name, Lucas Cranach the Younger .


Lucas Cranach, portrayed by Albrecht Dürer in 1524
Memorial plaque on the pharmacy in Wittenberg from 1872 for Lucas Cranach

The chronicler Matthias Gunderam reported in 1556 that Cranach was born on October 4th, 1472 in Kronach and that he received his first artistic training from his father, the wealthy Kronach citizen Hans Maler, whose wife Barbara was a née Hübner. There is no documentary evidence of Cranach's origin or his date of birth. Based on court files from 1495, which deal with the bad behavior of the painter's children, the year of birth 1472 is doubted by recent research and only vaguely dated to "around 1475".

Cranach had at least six sisters and two brothers. Her mother Barbara died around 1491. After his initial artistic training, Lucas probably went on a journey as a journeyman. In 1502 he came to Vienna and stayed there until 1504. Because of the imperial court, Maximilians I , Vienna was considered the cultural center of that time, where there were also contacts to numerous princes as potential employers and clients. The paintings from this period show clear influences from the Danube School . In Vienna he made his first contacts with leading humanists . During his stay in Vienna, Cranach began to sign his pictures with Lucas Cranach ("Lucas [from] Kronach").

In 1505 he got a job as a court painter to the Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony in Wittenberg . He took over the painter's workshop in Wittenberg Castle , previously headed by Jacopo de 'Barbari , whose tasks included not only furnishing churches and castles with paintings, but also making book decorations as well as trivial painting, gilding and designing festive decorations and ornaments. Impressive evidence of the birth of medal art in Germany are, for example, the so-called Locumtenenstaler with the likeness of Frederick the Wise, for which he provided the design. Numerous invoices received provide information about the type and scope of the activities.

As a court painter, Cranach made numerous portraits of his employer, the first time in 1507 for the Nuremberg Dominican Church .

With effect from January 6, 1508, Cranach was given an emblem (with a winged serpent with a ruby ​​ring in its mouth) as a family coat of arms by his employer. In the same year he was sent to the Netherlands (to Mechelen ) on a diplomatic assignment by the Elector , where he - along with other members of the family - made portraits of Emperor Maximilian I and the later Emperor Charles V.

In 1510, special payments from Lucas Moler are mentioned for the first time in documents from the city of Wittenberg . He also bought various building materials that year. From this it is concluded that he and the workshop moved from the castle to the city that year. Around 1512/13 Cranach married Barbara Brengbier († 1541), a daughter of Jobst Brengbier, the mayor of Gotha . His eldest son Hans was born and Lucas was born in 1515 , followed by three daughters by 1520. Around 1513 start of a wine bar. In the years 1515 to 1520 he created the first prints ( woodcuts etc.), some of which - similar to Albrecht Dürer - he distributed himself freely.

In 1520 he was able to buy a pharmacy in Wittenberg, a few years later he is also known as a bookseller, paper dealer and publisher. Together with his business partner, the goldsmith Christian Döring , he oversaw the publishing of Martin Luther's September will in 1522 . He became a respected and influential figure in his new home - also as a landowner and publisher. In 1524 he met Albrecht Dürer in Nuremberg ; on this occasion Dürer made a portrait of Cranach in silver pen. Cranach first came to the Wittenberg council chair as treasurer in the period of office of 1519/1520 and held this office repeatedly until 1535. Furthermore, he was a member of the council for the period of office 1528/1529.

In Wittenberg he made friends with Philipp Melanchthon and Martin Luther. Together with his wife, he was the best man at his marriage to Katharina von Bora in 1525 and was godfather of Luther's eldest son Johannes. The second wife of his son Lucas, Magdalena Schurff, was a niece of Philipp Melanchthon. Cranach not only developed into the characteristic painter of the German Reformation , he also worked nationwide in the intellectual debate of this time through his graphics in Reformation writings. However, he was not only active for Reformation-minded clients, but also for Old Believers. For example, he created the extensive altar cycle for Cardinal Albrecht's new collegiate church in Halle.

After the death of Frederick the Wise, Cranach was employed as court painter by his successors Johann the Steadfast and Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous . In addition to mostly unknown employees, his two sons Hans and Lucas the Elder were also involved from around 1530. J. worked in the Cranach workshop. From 1537 to 1544, Lucas Cranach was repeatedly at the head of the Wittenberg community as mayor and also held the office of assessor of a mayor as a former mayor several times.

With the city council, Cranach advocated the execution of Prista Frühbottin , her son Dictus and two other people for witchcraft ; they were smoked. The verdict was passed by the city judge Ambrosius Reuther and Lucas Cranach the Elder. Ä. confirmed the verdict as mayor. On Tuesday, June 29, 1540, the old woman and her fellow delinquents were executed. About the witch burning in Wittenberg in 1540 Lucas Cranach the Elder created J. a woodcut .

Burning of witches in Wittenberg on June 29, 1540, portrayed by Lucas Cranach the Elder. J.
The Cranachhaus in Weimar (left)

In 1547 his third employer, Duke Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous, succumbed to the imperial troops in the Battle of Mühlberg and was imprisoned. At Johann Friedrich's request, Cranach followed him three years later into captivity in Augsburg , then in Innsbruck. There, too, he worked for the duke and his visitors - he had meanwhile handed over his Wittenberg workshop to his son Lucas. In Augsburg he made the acquaintance of Titian .

In 1552 Lucas Cranach the Elder went with the Duke to his new residence in Weimar . There he lived in the house of his daughter Barbara Cranach (the " Cranachhaus "). He died on October 16, 1553.

He found his final resting place in the Jakobsfriedhof in Weimar . On his tombstone he is described as "the fastest painter". The tombstone was created by Cranach's friend, the ducal master builder and trained stonemason, Nikolaus Gromann . The tombstone that today's visitor sees is a true copy of the original. The original grave plate was replaced by a copy and, for conservation reasons, moved to the city church of Peter and Paul ("Herderkirche") to the left of the altar in 1859.


The grave of Lucas Cranach the Elder Ä. at the Jacobsfriedhof in Weimar

Cranach had five children with his wife Barbara:

  • Hans (* around 1512; † 1537), who also became an artist
  • Lucas (* 1515; † 1586), known as "the Younger", took over his father's workshop in 1550 (1552?) And, like him, also became a council member and mayor of Wittenberg. The grandson Augustin (1554–1595) and great grandson Lucas (1586–1645) continued the artistic family tradition.
  • Barbara († 1601), married to the Saxon Chancellor Christian Brück since 1543 . The mother of the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe comes from this line , so that Lucas Cranach is the great-great-grandfather of Goethe.
  • Ursula (life data unknown), first marriage on May 3, 1537 (husband unknown), second marriage in 1544 with the Gotha mayor Georg Dasch
  • Anna (* unknown; † June 30, 1577), married to the Wittenberg pharmacist and mayor Caspar Pfreund



Lament under the cross , oil on fir wood , 1503 ( Alte Pinakothek , Munich)

Lucas Cranach is one of the most important visual artists of the early 16th century in Germany. Since he held the permanent position as court painter to the Saxon electors in 1505, he also worked for Emperor Maximilian I , for Albrecht of Brandenburg , Albrecht's brother Joachim I Nestor and his son Joachim II of Brandenburg, as well as for other high nobles and - at the same time - for his Protestant friends. Together with Albrecht Dürer and other important artists of the time, he received the honorable commission in 1515 to illustrate Maximilian I's prayer book .

The indirect influence of his great Nuremberg colleague can be found in many of his works. However, Cranach was less interested in dealing with classic Italian forms than Dürer, but rather remained within northern Alpine design: he switched from the innovations of the Danube School to Low German traditions. Cranach became particularly well known for his secular and allegorical nudes, which were completely new in German painting.

Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg and Martin Luther stand for the conflict between Old Believer Catholics and Reformation Protestants - the artist Lucas Cranach in between. He made no secret of his sympathy for Luther and the Reformation, and although Cranach's graphics played a decisive role in the spread of Reformation ideas (Luther's translation of the Bible with Cranach's illustrations appeared in 1522), he always worked - with success - for Catholic clients, especially for Albrecht von Brandenburg or the Albertine Duke George the Bearded . The Cranach workshop completed the most extensive cycle of paintings in German art history for the new collegiate church in Albrecht's favorite residence, Halle . On the other hand, Cranach developed new topics for his Protestant clients that focused on the concept of divine grace or the justification of sinful people through faith.

Even his contemporaries were amazed by the productivity of Cranach. Following the example of his Italian colleagues, he had set up a very well-organized workshop in which successful samples were kept and used for later orders. Templates were used for various portraits of princes and reformers, which were then adapted to the aged appearance of the portrayed (e.g. George the Bearded, Friedrich the Wise, Martin Luther) by changing the length of the beard or graying hair. Numerous small-scale design drawings have been preserved for altar works, which could be exchanged like a modular system when designing an altar. His numerous apprentices and journeymen were subject to strict discipline. This led to a standardized style that made it difficult to divorce hands between him, his sons and co-workers, and imitators.

Work overview

Reconstruction of the Magdalen Altar, feast day side, 1520-25

It is believed that up to 5,000 paintings could have been created by the artist and his workshop. In museums, collections and on the art market, well over 1,000 panel paintings can still be found today. The Weimar curator Christian Schuchardt described several hundred paintings in his work on the life and work of Cranach, which appeared in three volumes between 1851 and 1871. In 1863 Gustav Parthey listed in his directory of oil paintings by deceased painters from all schools in Germany 357 paintings ascribed to the older Cranach as well as around 400 other works that could be considered for the younger Cranach, both or both workshops and schools. Around 850 paintings by Max J. Friedländer and Jakob Rosenberg were compiled and commented on in 1932 (re-published in 1979). Many individual panels, unless they are portraits or allegorical representations, were once parts of extensive altar works, of which the largest number can only be verified by documents. Some Cranach altars could be reconstructed as a whole (e.g. Magdalene Altar) or in fragments (e.g. Prague Altar).

In addition to panel paintings, there are a large number of woodcuts, around 350 drawings and several copper engravings. The drawings were dealt with by Girshausen in 1936, by Rosenberg in 1960 and most recently by Hofbauer in 2010. A far-reaching overview of their entire oeuvre was presented by Koepplin / Falk in the Basel catalog 1974/76. There are also numerous publications on individual holdings, e.g. B. a catalog of around 80 drawings in Erlangen or a catalog of the Dresden Cranach inventory. The compilation of the complete works remained a desideratum until the end of the 20th century . A catalog raisonné was only possible with the introduction of new media. In its Cranach catalog raisonné Corpus Cranach , which was presented for the first time in 2014 and has been continued since then, Heidelberg University Library lists more than 2,500 paintings, a large part of which were for Cranach the Elder. Ä. come into question.

The work of the older Cranach extends over a period of more than five decades. According to the latest research, the portrait of a young man (shown on the earlier ten D-Mark note ), which was previously attributed to Albrecht Dürer , is one of the earliest works by Lucas Cranach from shortly before 1500. The last work is the altarpiece for the city church of Weimar, which the elder Cranach probably started in 1552 and which his son Lucas the Elder wrote. J. 1555 was completed.

Works (selection)

Works by Lucas Cranach the Elder from a creative phase from 1502 to 1555.

Selected Works 
Illustration Title (year of creation) Repository
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Crucifixion of Christ (Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien) .jpg Crucifixion
(around 1500)
Kunsthistorisches Museum
St. Valentin-with-Stifter-150.jpg Saint Valentine with donor
Academy of Fine Arts
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  - The Lamentation of Christ - The Schleißheim Crucifixion - Alte Pinakothek.jpg Lament under the cross
"Schleissheimer Kreuzigung"
Old Pinakothek
Cranach, Lucas 1 - Reuss.jpg Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  - Portrait of Frau Reuss - WGA05677.jpg Spouses portraits of a scholar and
his wife
Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg and Gemäldegalerie in Berlin
Lucas Cranach (I) - Dr.  Johannes Cuspinian.jpg Lucas Cranach (I) - Anna Cuspinian.jpg Spouses portraits of Dr. Johannes Cuspinian and
Anna Cuspinian (née Putsch)
Oskar Reinhart Collection "Am Römerholz"
Rest-on-the-escape.jpg Holy Family in Landscape
"Rest on the Flight"
Gemäldegalerie in Berlin
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  026.jpg The martyrdom of St. Catherine -
middle picture of the Dresden winged altar
Old Masters Picture Gallery
The Martyrdom of St Catherine by Lucas Cranach the Elder (HU HCBC) .jpg The Martyrdom of Saint Catherine
Raday Collection of the Budapest Reformed Church
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Venus and Cupid (Hermitage) .jpg Venus and Cupid
Saint Petersburg
Christoph-Scheurl-1509.jpg Christoph Scheurl
Small winged altar-1509.jpg Small winged altar
"Travel Altar"
(around 1509/10)
Old Masters Picture Gallery (Kassel)
Cranach holy kinship.jpg Prince's
altar "Torgau Altar"
Städelsches Kunstinstitut
Frankfurt am Main
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - The Martyrdom of Saint Barbara.jpg The Martyrdom of Saint Barbara
(around 1510)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York City
Prince altar
(around 1510)
Cranach Madonna under the fir tree.jpg Madonna under the firs
(around 1510)
Salomé - Lucas Cranach, o Velho.jpg Salome
(around 1510)
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga
Neustadt-orla-Stadtkirche-2013-005.JPG Winged altar
"Neustädter Altar"
City church St. Johannis
Neustadt an der Orla
Adam-and-eve-1513.jpg Adam and Eve
(around 1513/15)
Museum for Franconia
Cranach, Lucas the Elder  Ä.  - Double portrait of Duke Heinrich the Pious and wife of Duchess Catherine of Mecklenburg - 1514.jpg Portrait couple Heinrich the Pious and
Katharina von Mecklenburg
Old Masters Picture Gallery
Christ-and-Mary-1515.jpg Christ and Mary
10 commandments (Lucas Cranach d A) .jpg Ten Commandments Tablet
Cranach Adam u Eva @ Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum (1) .JPG Adam and Eve
(around 1518)
Duke Anton Ulrich Museum
The-dying-1518.jpg The dying, epitaph of Heinrich Schmitburg
Museum of Fine Arts
Lucas Cranach (I) - Lying-Source-Nymph-1518.jpg Reclining spring nymph
St. Eustachius-1515.jpg Saint Eustachius adoring before the stag of
(around 1515/20)
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  043.jpg Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg
(around 1520)
Grunewald Hunting Lodge,
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Prince Johann von Anhalt (Grunewald Hunting Lodge) .jpg Prince Johann von Anhalt
(around 1520)
Grunewald Hunting Lodge,
Cranach christophorus1516.jpg Christophorus
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  012.jpg Diana and Actaeon
(first third of the 16th century)
Franconian Gallery
Lucas-cranach-judith-drawing.jpg Half figure of Judith (Loss of war)
Albrecht-v-Brandenburg-1520.jpg Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg
kneeling before the crucified
(around 1520)
Cranach the Elder, Lucas - Christ and the Adulteress - Franconian Gallery - 1520.jpg Christ and the Adulteress
(around 1520)
Franconian Gallery
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  Magdalene Altar Reconstruction.jpg Magdalene Altar
Aschaffenburg Abbey Museum
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Portrait of Luther as Junker Jörg (Leipzig) .jpg Martin Luther as Junker Jörg
Museum of Fine Arts
Christ as the Man of Sorrows at the open grave
Freiburg im Breisgau
Cranach Judith SammlRau.JPG Judith with two companions
Gustav Rau Collection
Grape Madonna-1525.jpg Grape Madonna
(around 1525)
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Portrait of Princess Sibylle von Cleve (1526, Klassik Stiftung Weimar) .jpg Princess Sibylle of Cleve as a bride
Weimar City Palace
Saint-Anthony-1520.jpg Saint Anthony as a hermit
(around 1520/25)
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg as Hieronymus in the case (Hessisches Landesmuseum) .jpg Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg as Hieronymus in the case (1525) Hessian State Museum Darmstadt
Hans-Luther.jpg Margarethe-Luther-1527.jpg Portrait couple of Martin Luther's parents Hans Luther
and Magarethe Luther
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  057.jpg Hans Luther
(opaque color drawing)
Martin-Luther-1526-1.jpg Catherine-v-Bora-1526-1.jpg Portrait couple Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora
(around 1526)
Private ownership,
Martin-Luther-1526.jpg Katharina-v-Bora-1526.jpg Portrait couple Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora
Cranach the Elder  Martin Luther 1528.jpg Cranach Katharina von Bora.jpg Portrait couple Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora
Lower Saxony State Museum Hanover
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - The judgment of Paris (Kunstsammlung Basel) .jpg The judgment of Paris
Art Museum Basel
Lucas Cranach (I) workshop - Martin Luther - Gemäldegalerie Berlin.jpg Martin Luther Gemäldegalerie in Berlin
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Portrait of Margrave Albrecht of Brandenburg-Ansbach (Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum) .jpg Duke Albrecht of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Duke Anton Ulrich Museum
Cranach Law and Grace Gotha.jpg Law and grace
Friedenstein Castle
Hall Marienkirche Reichel organ 01.JPG Triptych (1529)
by Simon Franck completed
Marktkirche Our Dear Women
Hall on the Saale
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  048.jpg Portrait of Johannes Scheyring
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of
Lucas Cranach (I) - Joachim I Nestor.jpg Elector Joachim I of Brandenburg
Grunewald Hunting Lodge,
Berlin Glam on Tour Jagdschloss Grunewald 2018 041 cropped.jpg Margrave Georg the Pious of Brandenburg-Ansbach with headgear
Grunewald Hunting Lodge,
Cranach, Lucas (II) - Georg the Pious - Grunewald Hunting Lodge - 1564.jpg Margrave Georg the Pious of Brandenburg-Ansbach without headgear
Grunewald Hunting Lodge,
Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg (DE SPSG GKI10219) .jpg Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg
Grunewald Hunting Lodge,
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Double portrait of Martin Luther a.  Katharina Bora (Museo Poldi Pezzoli) .jpg Double portrait of Martin Luther and his wife Katharina Bora
(around 1529)
Museo Poldi Pezzoli
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Judith with the head of Holofernes (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart) .jpg Judith with the head of Holofernes
(around 1530)
State Gallery Stuttgart
Judith with the head of Holofernes.jpg Judith with the head of Holofernes
Grunewald Hunting Lodge,
Three-Graces-1530.jpg Three Graces
(around 1530)
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - The Golden Age (Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo) .jpg The golden age
(around 1530)
Golden-age-1530-2.jpg The golden age
(around 1530)
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - The fruits of jealousy (The Silver Age), National Gallery, London.jpg The Fruits of Jealousy (The End of the Silver Age)
(around 1530)
National Gallery
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Saint Barbara in a wooded landscape.jpg Saint Barbara
(around 1530)
Würth Collection, Johanniter Church
in Schwäbisch Hall
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  070.jpg Judgment of Paris
Karlsruhe Art Gallery
Cranach, Lucas the Elder  Ä.  - Melancholy - 1532.jpg Melancholy
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  071.jpg Venus
Städelsches Kunstinstitut
Frankfurt am Main
Johannes-Bugenhagen-1532.jpg Portrait of a man
(previously interpreted as Johannes Bugenhagen , but
according to recent research it is more likely to be the
Leipzig reformer
Christoph Ering )
Friedrich-III-Saxony-1532-1.jpg Frederick the Wise
Franconian Gallery
Johann-Saxony-1532-1.jpg John the Steadfast
Franconian Gallery
Johann-Saxony-1532-2.jpg John the Steadfast
Johann-Saxony-1532-3.jpg John the Steadfast
3-Electors.jpg The three electors of Saxony
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  - Johann Friedrich I of Saxony.jpg Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous of Saxony
The Ill-matched Couple (Lucas Cranach the Elder) - National Museum - 17208.tif Payment
National Museum Stockholm
Cranach Adam and Eve.jpg
Adam and Eve


Warsaw Royal Castle


Cranach, Lucas (I) - Adam and Eve - Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig.jpg Adam and Eve
Museum of Fine Arts
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Gregor Brück, 1533 (Germanisches Nationalmuseum) .jpg Gregor Brück
Germanic National Museum
Venus-and-Cupid-1534.jpg Venus and Cupid as a honey thief
Franconian Gallery
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Portrait of Christiane von Eulenau (New Residence Bamberg) .jpg Portrait of a Lady with a Feathered Hat
New residence in
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  039.jpg The Princesses Sidonie von Sachsen ,
Aemilia von Sachsen and Sibylle von Sachsen
(around 1535)
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - The Crucifixion with the Converted Captain (National Gallery of Art) .jpg The captain under the cross
Justice-1537.jpg Justice as a Naked Woman with Sword and
Cranach dJ - Caritas - Hamburger Kunsthalle - 1537 anagoria.jpg Caritas
Hamburger Kunsthalle
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Portrait of a young woman (Statens Museum for Kunst) .jpg Portrait of a Young Woman.
Princess Emilia of Saxony?
(around 1537)
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Winged altar (crucifixion of Christ)
for St. Alexandri in Einbeck
Kreuzkirche Hannover and
Lower Saxony State Museum
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Hercules with Omphale (Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum) .jpg Hercules at Omphale
Duke Anton Ulrich Museum
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Cupid complains to Venus (National Gallery, London) .jpg Venus with Cupid as a honey thief
National Gallery
Image of grace Mariahilf, Innsbruck.jpg Image of grace Mariahilf
(after 1537)
Innsbruck Cathedral
Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Crucifixion with the believing centurion (Seville) .jpg The captain under the cross
Schneeberg St. Wolfgang church altar piece front (aka) .jpg Schneeberger Altar
St. Wolfgang Church in
The-deer-hunt-1540.jpg The Deer Hunt
Maria-m-christk-1540.jpg Mary with the Christ child and the sleeping
boy (around 1540/50)
Privately owned
AB StGal CranachdÄ Crucifixion altarpiece of five groups.jpg Crucifixion Altar
State Gallery Aschaffenburg
Martin-luther-1543.jpg Philipp-Melanchthon-1543.jpg Portrait couple Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  018.jpg Deer and boar hunting
Lucas Cranach the Elder  J. - Christ Blessing the Children - WGA05732.jpg Christ blesses the children
Collection Würth Johanniterkirche
Schwäbisch Hall
Wittenberg City Church 1.jpg Reformation altar
(construction: around 1540; inauguration: 1547)
City Church St. Marien
Cranach Lukretia Historical Museum Regensburg 20160929.jpg Lucretia
first half of the 16th century
Historical Museum Regensburg
Lucas Cranach the Elder  Ä.  063.jpg Portrait at the age of 77
(self-portrait or work by Cranach the Younger)
Uffizi Gallery,
Weimaraltar-1555-B.jpg Christ on the Cross
altarpiece, begun in 1552;
by Lucas Cranach the Elder J. completed in 1555
City Church Weimar | -
Reclining female nude with child formerly the Dresden Kupferstichkabinett , now lost

Problems of attribution

Cranach signature (crowned and winged snake with a ring in its mouth) on the portrait of Katharina von Mecklenburg from 1514

According to the traditional works and biographical data, Lukas Cranach emerged from the darkness of history around 1500 as a trained painter. One can only speculate about his education. The work ascribed to him goes through several changes. While his early work still shows influences from the Danube School, Italian and other influences have also been added over time. The long working life of the Cranach workshop with generations of employees who have worked through it over several decades reveals a large number of different artist hands within the overall work, without these being clearly divorced.

Very few employees in the Cranach workshop are known by name. From 1538 to 1541 Franz Tymmermann was a pupil of the older Cranach, with the younger Cranach from 1550 to 1555 Heinrich Königswieser , 1565 to 1568 Erhard Gaulrap and from 1571 Zacharias Wehme are recorded . From other painters like Wolfgang Krodel the Elder. Ä. or Augustus Cordus , based on stylistic similarities, it is assumed that they also received their training from Cranach.

Cranach's signature, the winged snake that he used when Frederick the Wise was awarded the coat of arms at the beginning of 1508, is found on the surviving works in such a variety that it can no longer be interpreted today. Essentially, a distinction can only be made between the position of the serpent's wings (standing or lowered), which is usually used to limit the time before or after the death of his son Hans in 1537. With many works it is not even possible to give them to older Cranach or his son Lukas the Elder. J. assign.

The traditional way of attribution is therefore such that the highest quality of the works are ascribed to the older Cranach and the others in the order of their quality gradient to his son Lukas, the workshop or the circle or the successor. In the end, many of the traditional works, including the small-format portraits of the elector and reformers, were mass-produced products, which, according to the invoices received, were manufactured in large numbers by the Cranach workshop and intended to be widely distributed.

An attribution is therefore extremely difficult. Many of the works that are used by Cranach today were still attributed to Mathias Grünewald in the 19th century , while other works that were once attributed to Cranach are now more likely to be attributed to the Schneeberg artist family Krodel or the copyist Christian Richter. The master of the Pflock Altar, known only by his emergency name, can also be identified as the painter in charge of an important group of works . It is the same with the master of the Gregor masses . Other works once attributed to Cranach are by the painter Franz Wolfgang Rohrich , who created numerous paintings in the Renaissance style in the early 19th century.

Further attribution problems arise from the fact that some of Cranach's pictorial ideas soon acquired an iconographic character and were soon copied many times after their creation, including the portraits of Luther and the portraits of the Saxon electors or the miraculous image of Mariahilf, which is widely used in countless copies throughout the Alpine region . For some of the late repetitions of Cranach's motifs, Cranach's grandson Augustin Cranach or great-grandson Lucas Cranach III. those who continued the family tradition of painting, but to which research has so far only been able to assign very few works.

The value of the Cranach paintings on the art market and their extremely difficult attribution also continue to attract forgers and fraudsters, who either create new forgeries or declare insignificant paintings with corresponding motifs to be real Cranachs. For example, the panel with Frederick the Wise with imperial crown from the Limacon Foundation's art collection caused a stir , the value of which was estimated at ten million US dollars in 2001, but which was later regarded as a minor work by the Cranach successor . The artist Christian Goller is considered to be the originator of a large number of modern Cranach forgeries. He and his assistants brought at least 40 Cranach imitations onto the market and, according to LKA President Peter Dathe, "intervened in German art history". A depiction of Venus, which Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein acquired in 2013 as a work of Cranach the Elder from the London art dealer Colnaghi for 7 million euros , was confiscated by the French police in March 2016 after doubts about the authenticity of the Painting had come up.



Inauguration of the Cranach monument in Wittenberg on November 27, 2005

Naming schools and streets

After Lucas Cranach, elementary schools in his native Kronach and his places of work Weimar and Lutherstadt Wittenberg (grammar school) as well as a community elementary school on the southern edge of the city of Essen are named. In Groß Flottbek (today Hamburg-Groß Flottbek ), Cranachstrasse was named after him in 1910 and Cranachplatz in 1915 .

Remembrance day

Cranach's ecclesiastical appreciation consists of a day of remembrance in the evangelical calendar of names on October 10 (originally on October 16 ). Before the official name calendar was introduced by the Liturgical Conference in 1969, this was already included in the name calendar for the German people by the Prussian Evangelical Higher Church Council (published in Berlin in 1876).

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod also commemorate him on April 6th in their calendars of saints.

Special postage stamp

500 years of Katharina von Bora: German commemorative stamp from 1999

In 1999, the Deutsche Bundespost dedicated a stamp to Katharina von Boras' 500th birthday to the value of 110 Pfennig after a painting by Lucas Cranach.


  • February 23 to June 5, 2007 Cranach in exile, refuge - treasure chamber - residence in the museums of the city of Aschaffenburg
  • April 8 to July 30, 2017: Cranach. Master - Brand - Modern in the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf
  • May 20 to September 24, 2017: Cranach's Luther! + Pop up Cranach in the State Museum Schwerin , Güstrow Castle


  • Edgar Bierende: Lucas Cranach the Elder Ä. and German humanism. Panel painting in the context of rhetoric, chronicles and prince mirrors. Munich 2002.
  • Bodo Brinkmann (Ed.): Lucas Cranach. Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern 2007, ISBN 978-3-7757-1334-4 .
  • Jakob Degen : Lucas Cranach and Hans von Kulmbach. 2 painters from neighboring Franconian states. In: Blätter vom Frankenwald, local supplement to the “Franconian Forest”. Born 4/1936. Number 1.
  • Hans Düfel: Cranach, Lucas the Elder and the Younger. In: Theological Real Encyclopedia . 8, 1981, pp. 218-225.
  • Evangelical Church in the Rhineland (ed.): The Jew as a traitor. Anti-Jewish polemics and Christian art. A working aid for the Wittenberg “Reformation Altar” by Lucas Cranach the Elder in the context of the Christian-Jewish relationship. Düsseldorf 2014. ( PDF).
  • Sören Fischer (Ed.): Law and grace: Wolfgang Krodel d. Ä., Lucas Cranach the Elder Ä. and the redemption of man in the image of the Reformation, publication for the special exhibition of the same name at the Sacral Museum St. Annen from March 31 to May 28, 2017. with contributions by Thomas Binder, Sören Fischer, Ingo Sandner and Kai Wenzel In: Kleine Schriften der Städtischenammlung Kamenz. Volume 8, Kamenz 2017, ISBN 978-3-910046-66-5 .
  • Curt Glaser : Lukas Cranach Series German Masters. Insel Verlag, Leipzig 1921.
  • Claus Grimm , Johannes Erichsen, Evamaria Brockhoff (eds.): Lucas Cranach. A painter entrepreneur from Franconia. Augsburg 1994, ISBN 3-927233-33-1 .
  • Theo Ludwig Girshausen:  Cranach, Lucas the Elder. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 3, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1957, ISBN 3-428-00184-2 , pp. 395-398 ( digitized version ).
  • Karin Groll: The “Passional Christi und Antichristi” by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Frankfurt 1990, ISBN 3-631-43236-4 .
  • Michael Hofbauer: Cranach - The drawings. Edition Braus, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86228-018-6 .
  • Gunnar Heydenreich : Lucas Cranach the Elder: Painting materials, techniques and workshop practice. Amsterdam University Press 2007, ISBN 978-90-5356-745-6 .
  • Gunnar Heydenreich, Daniel Görres, Beat Wismer (eds.): Lucas Cranach the Elder. Master - Brand - Modern. Exhibition catalog, Hirmer Verlag, Düsseldorf / Munich 2017, ISBN 978-3-7774-2744-7 .
  • Dieter Koepplin , Tilman Falk : Lukas Cranach. Paintings, drawings, prints . Birkhäuser, Basel / Stutgartt 1974 ( digitized volume 1 , volume 2 ).
  • Heinrich Kühne , Jutta Strehle: Lucas Cranach the Elder in Wittenberg . Wittenberg 1993, ISBN 3-9803358-4-4 .
  • Friedrich Lippmann (ed.): Lucas Cranach - Collection of reproductions of his most excellent woodcuts and his engravings. G. Grote'sche Verlagbuchhandlung, Berlin 1895.
  • Heinz Lüdecke, published on behalf of the German Academy of the Arts : Lucas Cranach d. Ä .: The artist and his time. Berlin 1953, ( digitized version )
  • Peter Moser: Lucas Cranach - His life, his world and his pictures. Bamberg 2004, ISBN 3-933469-14-7 .
  • museum landscape hessen kassel / Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha (ed.): image and message. Cranach in the service of the court and the Reformation. Exhibition catalog, Morio Verlag, Heidelberg 2015, ISBN 978-3-945424-09-4 .
  • Hans Posse : Lucas Cranach the Elder Ä. Verlag Anton Schroll & Co., Vienna 1942.
  • Werner Schade : The Cranach family of painters. VEB Verlag der Kunst, Dresden 1974 ( digitized version )
  • Werner Schade (arrangement): Lucas Cranach. Faith, Mythology and Modernity . Hatje Dantz Verlag, Ostfildern 2003, ISBN 978-3-7757-1334-4 .
  • Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg (ed.): Cranach and the art of the Renaissance under the Hohenzollern: Church, court and urban culture. Deutscher Kunstverlag 2009, ISBN 978-3-422-06910-7 .
  • Andreas Tacke : The Catholic Cranach. On two major orders from Lucas Cranach the Elder, Simon Franck and the Cranach workshop 1520–1540 (= Berlin writings on art, vol. 2). Von Zabern, Mainz 1992, ISBN 3-8053-1228-8 .
  • Andreas Tacke (Ed.): Lucas Cranach d. Ä. - For the 450th year of death. Leipzig 2007, ISBN 978-3-374-02434-6 .
  • Andreas Tacke, Gerhard Ermischer (Eds.): Cranach in Exile, Refuge - Treasure Chamber - Residence (= exhibition catalog of the museums of the city of Aschaffenburg, February 23 - June 5, 2007). Schnell + Steiner, Regensburg 2007, ISBN 3-7954-1948-4 .
  • Alfred WoltmannCranach, Lucas the Elder . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 4, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1876, pp. 559-562.

Web links

Commons : Lucas Cranach the Elder  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Elisabeth Schepers: The painters of Kronach ; in: Lucas Cranach - A painter-entrepreneur from Franconia. Catalog for the state exhibition fortress Rosenberg, Kronach, Augsburg 1994, pp. 44–51.
  2. a b Ingo Sander (Ed.): Invisible master drawings on the painting ground: Cranach and his contemporaries. Schnell and Steiner 1998, ISBN 3-7954-1172-6 , p. 11.
  3. ^ Werner Schade: The Cranach family of painters . 1974 ( digitized version ), p. 12.
  4. a b c d e Cranach Digital Archive: Lucas Cranach the Elder .
  5. District Office for the Preservation of Monuments and Archeology in Saxony-Anhalt ...: "Martin Luther, Schätze der Reformation", Sandsteinverlag, p. 62.
  6. Christian Schuchardt: Lucas Cranach of Aging Life and Works (Volume 1). Leipzig 1851, p. 48 ( online ).
  7. see also the history of papermaking in modern times .
  8. a b Cranach paintings by Luther and Melanchthon move into a Hamburg church ( memento from October 10, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) ( accessed on March 4, 2013.
  9. ^ Willi Winkler: Luther: A German rebel. Rowohlt Verlag, Hamburg 2016, ISBN 978-3-644-12381-6 .
  10. Hartmut Hegeler: 1540 witch trial in Wittenberg. Pp. 1–12, accessed on January 24, 2018 .
  11. .
  12. a b Ekkehart Fabian:  Brück, Christian. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 2, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1955, ISBN 3-428-00183-4 , p. 652 f. ( Digitized version ).
  13. Andreas Tacke (Ed.): Cranach - masterpieces in stock, the Erlanger hand drawings of the university library. Inventory and exhibition catalog (= publications of the Erlangen-Nuremberg University Library. Volume 25). Munich 1994.
  14. Christian Schuchardt: Lucas Cranach's life and works. Edited from documented sources. Part I and II Leipzig 1851, Part III (supplement) Leipzig 1871.
  15. ^ Gustav Parthey: German picture room. Directory of the oil paintings of deceased painters in all schools in Germany , Berlin 1863.
  16. Max J. Friedländer, Jakob Rosenberg: The paintings by Lucas Cranach. 2nd edition Stuttgart: Parkland 1989 ISBN 3-88059-343-4 .
  17. ^ A b Dieter Koepplin and Tilman Falk: Lukas Cranach. Paintings, drawings, prints. Stuttgart / Basel 1974/76 ( online ).
  18. Berthold Hinz: Lucas Cranach the Elder. Ä. and his picture manufacture. An artist's social history, Munich 1994, p. 175.
  19. Katharina Frank: Views on Cranach: Between sources and the history of science, in this: The biblical history paintings of the Cranach workshop. Christ and the adulteress as instructive “history” in the age of the Reformation (Stuttgarter Akademieschriften 2), Heidelberg 2018, p. 19–66, her p. 36–37.
  20. CORPUS CRANACH as the most comprehensive catalog raisonné of an old master workshop, publicly accessible .
  21. Uwe Wittstock: The healing of the archbishop., November 25, 2009, accessed on September 3, 2017 . .
  22. Homepage of the St. Wolfgang parish with the date of the winged altar ( memento from August 30, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on May 11, 2011.
  23. On the representation of Judas cf. The Jew as a traitor. Anti-Jewish polemics and Christian art. A working aid for the Wittenberg “Reformation Altar” by Lucas Cranach the Elder in the context of the Christian-Jewish relationship , ed. from the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, Düsseldorf 2014.
  24. Tanja Holste: The portrait art of Lucas Cranach the Elder. Ä. Dissertation Kiel 2004 ( online ), pdf; 13.40 MB.
  25. Heinz Lüdecke: Lucas Cranach the Elder in the mirror of his time. From documents, chronicles, letters, speeches and poems, Berlin, 1953.
  26. For example, the panel with Maria at the prayer desk in Weimar, see G. Parthey: Deutscher Bildersaal. Volume I, Berlin 1863, p. 526, No. 8.
  27. ^ Wilhelm Junius: The Erzgebirge artist family Krodel. In: Monthly Issues for Art History 1921, p. 253 ff.
  28. Joachim Jacoby: The Monogrammist CR: Cyriakus Reder and Christian Richter. In: Low German contributions to art history. 41, 2002, p. 197 ff.
  29. ^ Ingo Sandner: Panel painting of the late Gothic in Saxony. Verlag der Kunst Dresden / Basel 1993, p. 285 ff.
  30. ^ Biermann in Aachener Kunstblätter 46, 1975.
  31. Thomas Schauerte (ed.): The Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg - Renaissance prince and patron. Catalog for the exhibition in Halle, Regensburg 2006, volume 1, p. 188 ff.
  32. Michael Schatz: Dark Business. In: focus. 31, July 20, 2001.
  33. Ulrike Knöfel: crime scene Untergriesbach. In: Der Spiegel. 47/2014 of November 17, 2014, pp. 126–129.
  34. Press release LKA Bayern, November 17, 2014 .
  35. ^ French police seize painting attributed to Cranach, owned by the Prince of Liechtenstein. In: The Art Newspaper. 4th March 2016.
  36. Rita Bake : A Memory of the City. Streets, squares, bridges named after women and men , Volume 3, as of December 2017, p. 293 ( PDF file )
  37. Lucas Cranach in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints .
  38. Evangelical Michaelsbruderschaft (editor): Evangelisches Tagzeitenbuch. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 5th edition 2003, ISBN 3-525-60290-1 .
  39. ^ Frieder Schulz, Gerhard Schwinge (editor): Synaxis: Contributions to the liturgy , Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1997 , ISBN 3-525-60398-3 .
  40. ^ Liturgical conference: The church year: Protestant Sunday and holiday calendar. Office of the Liturgical Conference, Hanover annually since 2006, DNB 981162592.
  41. Cranach | State Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow. Retrieved July 5, 2017 . .