Lucas Cranach

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Cranach or Kranach, Lucas

(both: lo͞o`käs krä`näkh), the Elder, 1472–1553, German painter and engraver. The son of a painter, he settled in Wittenberg c.1504 and was court painter successively under three electors of Saxony. There he maintained a flourishing workshop and was twice burgomaster. Cranach was a close friend of Martin LutherLuther, Martin,
1483–1546, German leader of the Protestant Reformation, b. Eisleben, Saxony, of a family of small, but free, landholders. Early Life and Spiritual Crisis

Luther was educated at the cathedral school at Eisenach and at the Univ.
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, whose doctrine he upheld in numerous paintings and woodcuts, and he has been called the painter of the ReformationReformation,
religious revolution that took place in Western Europe in the 16th cent. It arose from objections to doctrines and practices in the medieval church (see Roman Catholic Church) and ultimately led to the freedom of dissent (see Protestantism).
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. He was a rapid and prolific painter, and the work turned out by his studio is uneven in quality. Naïve and fanciful, often awkward in draftsmanship, it has, nonetheless, freshness and originality and a warm, rich palette. His portraits are particularly successful. Among his best-known works are Repose in Egypt (Gemäldgalerie, Staatliche Mus., Berlin-Dahlem); Judgment of Paris (Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe); Adam and Eve (Courtauld Inst., London); and Crucifixion (Weimar). The latter contains figures of Luther and Cranach. His many famous protraits include those of Elector John Frederick and Self-Portrait (Uffizi). Cranach was also an accomplished miniaturist. He produced a few copperplates and designs for woodcuts. His son and pupil Lucas Cranach, the Younger, 1515–86, continued the tradition of his father, whose workshop, signature, and popularity he inherited. Their work is often indistinguishable.


See study ed. by E. Ruhmer (1963).

Cranach, Lucas


(also Lucas Cranach the Elder). Born 1472 in Kronach, Upper Franconia; died Oct. 16, 1553, in Weimar. German painter and graphic artist.

Cranach probably trained under his father. From around 1500 to 1504 he worked in Austria. From 1505 to 1550 he was the court painter of Frederick the Wise, the elector of Saxony, and of Frederick's successors in Wittenberg. He worked in Augsburg from 1550 to 1552 and in Weimar from 1552 to 1553. He visited the Netherlands in 1509.

Cranach's early works are particularly striking for their conceptual innovations. In Crucifixion (1503, Alte Pinakothek, Munich) the bold truthfulness of the images, the sharp asymmetry of composition, and the agitated colors of the landscape seem to portend social upheaval. In contrast, the painting Rest on the Flight Into Egypt (1504, Picture Gallery, Berlin-Dahlem) reveals an idyllic mood; the keenness and freshness of its apprehension of nature opened the way for the achievements of the Danube style. While in Wittenberg, Cranach combined apparently contradictory subjects and techniques, reflecting the complex character of the epoch and milieu in which he lived. The works Martyrdom of St. Catherine (1506, Picture Gallery, Dresden) and Prince's Altar (1510, State Gallery, Dessau) reflect the achievements of Renaissance art. In Cranach's later religious works, Renaissance elements are mixed with qualities of affectation. These qualities, which also appear in his woodcuts, are reminiscent of late Gothic art but, at the same time, anticipate mannerism. Humanistic ideals are reflected in Venus and Cupid (1509, Hermitage, Leningrad), Madonna (Hermitage), and River Nymph (1518, Museum of Fine Arts, Leipzig).

Cranach, a friend of M. Luther (whose portrait he painted many times, including a copperplate engraving, 1521), disseminated the ideas of the Reformation in several of his works, including the woodcut Sermon of John the Baptist (1516). However, he also accepted commissions from opponents of the Reformation (for example, the portrait of Albert the Bear, 1526, Hermitage).

Cranach's position as court painter contributed to the development of affected and conventional elements, an interest in complex allegorical and mythological themes, and the revival of several Gothic traditions (frigid composition, meticulous attention to detail, and archaic criteria of beauty). This growing conventionality was aggravated by the fact that Cranach's studio assistants produced a large number of monotonous mediocre works with his signature. Cranach, to a great extent, retained his great skill as a portraitist. Beginning in the early period of his career, he executed a number of vividly expressive portraits of his contemporaries, including J. Cuspinian (1502–03, O. Reinhart collection, Winterthur), S. Reuss (1503, German National Museum, Nuremberg), and J. Scheyring (1529, Museum of Old Art, Brussels).

Cranach's house in Weimar has been preserved; the palace museum there has a Cranach gallery.


Gershenzon, N. M. Lukas Kranakh. Moscow, 1933.
Friedlä;nder, M. J., and J. Rosenberg. Die Gemdlde von Lucas Cranach. Berlin, 1932.
Lucas Cranach der Ältere: Der Künstler und seine Zeit. Berlin, 1953.
Lucas Cranach der Altere im Spiegel seiner Zeit. Berlin, 1953.
Jahn, J. Lucas Cranach als Graphiker. Leipzig, 1955.
Rosenberg, J. Die Zeichnungen Lucas Cranachs. Berlin, 1960.

K. M. KOBER [German Democratic Republic; 13–948–3]

References in periodicals archive ?
1530, Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), panel, 50.8x38.1cm.
Lucas Cranach (the Elder), on the other hand, did have the opportunity to develop an entire Protestant iconography that is worth looking at and that, in a certain way, follows the line of The Four Apostles.
Leyenda: Lucas Cranach, el viejo, (Kronach, 1472-Weimar, 1553) Pareja de Amantes Oleo sobre tabla Coleccion Privada Europea
Inspiradas en las eroticas mujeres de los pintores renacentistas Lucas Cranach (el Viejo y el Joven), estas mujeres, enjutadas por la oxidacion natural del material, enfatizan el caracter divinamente profano de lo femenino.
The curatorial statement mentioned a gloriously diverse range of touchstones, including Jean Genet's strongly political absurdist play Le Balcon (The Balcony), 1956--which examines authenticity, representation, truth, and illusion--as well as the Marquis de Sade and an enigmatic portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Unfortunately, this promising exploration is marred by a failure to give basic information (such as Briick's dates) and by some basic errors (although he is correct that Lucas Cranach the Younger was married to Briick's daughter Barbara, Schneider has Bruck's son Christian married to a daughter of Lucas Cranach the Younger, rather than to the younger Cranach's sister, another Barbara).
Deftly dealing in the social media of that day, Luther's images were broadcast by such renowned German artists as Lucas Cranach, and his philosophy interpreted by such theologians as Melancthon.
I call this image "your knight in shining armor" created by Lucas Cranach the Elder, done around 1500, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Lucas Cranach the Elder La Bocca Della Verita (The Mouth of Truth)
A masterpiece in the collection of a leading Lebanese bank, a 16th century portrait of Frederick the Wise by Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder, exists only because the rich provincial ruler hired the artist for his court.
La muestra inicia con dos tablas renacentistas de Lucas Cranach, el Viejo: Adan y Eva, que se presentan juntas por primera vez desde los fondos de San Carlos y el Soumaya.
The current people whose works I have been surrounding myself with are William Blake, Lovecraft, Rimbaud, Chelsea Wolfe, Halgrath, The Vines, Jung, Carlos Castaneda, Matthias Grunewald and Lucas Cranach."