Station: [1] Introduction

Welcome to the Cranach Höfe – the Cranach Courts in Wittenberg. Please feel free to join us as we follow in the footsteps of the Cranach family of artists.

In the 16th century, the Cranach Court at Markt number four was home and workshop to probably the most famous family of painters to emerge from the Renaissance: the Cranachs. Lucas Cranach the Elder and his son Lucas Cranach the Younger were important painters and graphic artists. The property at Schloss-Strasse number 1 is another of the Cranach properties. 

You can see the artists’ portraits by the stairs. The one on the right is Lucas Cranach the Elder, while his son Lucas is on the left.

Now, please make your way into the exhibition “Cranachs Welt” – "Cranach's World", which gives an insight into the lives and work of this family of artists. 

It’s impossible to think about the art of Lucas Cranach the Elder without considering the time into which he was born. Printing had been invented in around 1450, and the Americas were rediscovered in 1492. Major artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were becoming famous the world over. Those were the times into which Lucas was born as the son of a couple called Maler – probably in 1472. The exact date isn’t known. 

The story of the Cranach family of artists in Wittenberg began in 1505, when Lucas Cranach was appointed as court painter to the court of the Elector of Saxony. Friedrich the Third of Saxony, called "the Wise", was considered a great patron of the arts. 

In the 16th century, Wittenberg was a lively, flourishing student town with about 2,000 residents and some 900 students. It attracted a lot of intellectuals, including the theologian Martin Luther in 1508. He held a Bible professorship at Wittenberg University, and before long, Luther and Cranach became close friends. 

At the next stop, you’ll find out more about Wittenberg, the town at the centre of Cranach's creative work.


All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch und Cranach Stiftung