Station: [17] Picture Gallery I

Images of the Virgin Mary, portraits, scenes from mythology and history, altarpieces – the Picture Gallery presents a summary of the Cranachs' oeuvre – from Cranach the Elder's images of the saints to the works influenced by the Reformation. The latter were also produced in Cranach the Younger's workshop from 1550 onwards.

The reproductions were created in 2015 as we prepared for this exhibition. The originals are in museums scattered across the whole world – from Italy to the United States.

On the left, you see pictures of saints and other religious figures. In the middle, for example, "Adam and Eve – the Fall", a panel painting dating to between 1510 and 1520. The painting "Gnadenbild Mariahilf" in the bottom row is probably the best-known image of Mary with the Child Jesus. Cranach had painted the icon for the Saxon court in Dresden. Today, this panel painting from 1537 is at Innsbruck Cathedral. 

Both Cranachs were highly skilled portrait painters from whom scholars, noblemen and merchants commissioned portraits. There’s a sense of great fondness about Cranach’s painting of Luther's parents, Hans and Margaretha Luther. The black background accentuates their features, which are marked by hard work. Their two portraits are in the top row.

There’s an interesting story behind the double portrait of the brothers Friedrich and Johann, who jointly governed the Duchy of Saxony. In 1532, shortly after succeeding as elector, Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous commissioned Lucas Cranach to create 60 pairs of portraits of his predecessors. The portraits were to reflect their great deeds and be distributed to allied courts. Cranach the Elder came up with a very clever solution. Under the portrait of each elector, he included a printed page with a description of his deeds. Each of the pictures was painted 60 times, resulting in 60 pairs of portraits. The pair of portraits is signed with the Cranach serpent on the left panel. The two serious-looking, bearded men are located in the middle section, right at the bottom.

Other portraits, such as the one of Luther – in the bottom row – were given the same treatment, with multiple copies being painted in the Cranach workshop.


All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch und Cranach Stiftung