de jonckheere old masters

Lucas Cranach the Elder

Kronach 1472 – Weimar 1553

Lucas Cranach was one of the pillars of artistic creation in the north-east of Germany during the first half of the 16th century. With Hans Holbein the Younger and Albrecht Dürer, he is considered to be one of the main representatives of the German Renaissance.

Both a painter and engraver, and a friend of Martin Luther and numerous humanists, he successfully painted religious and mythological scenes, portraits and female nudes which he often identified with Lucretia or Venus. Until 1498, he studied with his father, Hans, who influenced the beginning of his career. He then travelled to Vienna, where it seems he settled in 1500. The first known works of the artist date from this period; they are religious scenes whose vivid and expressive colours show proof of his creative power. In 1505, he became court painter for the Electors of Saxony. He decorated their castles, painted their portraits and those of their wives, executed altarpieces and also painted profane subjects. In 1508, Elector Frederick of Saxony granted Cranach his coat of arms with a winged serpent, which became the artist’s signature. His sons, Hans and Lucas the Younger, were among his assistants. Loyally imitating his style, they played a major role in the works produced by his studio. Apart from a visit to the Netherlands in 1508, the master resided almost uninterruptedly in Wittenberg. As an important citizen, he sat on the town’s assembly in 1519 and acted as burgomaster in 1537 and 1540. Despite the numerous influences that marked his era, his work remained faithful to the gothic traditions.