Station: [16] Ceiling Paintings

Here’s another chance to delve deep into the 16th century – and see originals from the Cranach workshop. That’s because the Cranachs and their employees also created ceiling paintings and murals. The Cranachs didn’t just design the rooms for the castles in Torgau, Lochau and Wittenberg. They also decorated the occasional town house – including the rooms here in the house on Market Square.

The ceiling and wall paintings in this room were probably created between 1533 and 1535. At the time, Lucas Cranach the Elder, his two sons and other workshop employees were occupied with painting Torgau Castle. The castle features a similar frieze in the grotesque style.

If you look in the mirror, you’ll get a better view of the ornate ceiling. The pale bird grotesques are an optical illusion. They’re meant to imitate stone reliefs. You can tell by the sharply outlined shadows that make the figures appear three-dimensional. Coiling vine tendrils with ochre leaves are set against a pale blue sky.

The illusionistic representation isn’t the only unusual feature. The almost profligate use of expensive blue azurite is also uncommon. In those days, using azurite paint as your ground would have cost almost as much as gold. 

Presumably the Cranachs also decorated other ceilings and walls in this house. However, Wittenberg’s District Authority for the Protection of Historic Monuments advocated retaining the Baroque ceilings in the other rooms. 

Now please make your way up the two steps into our picture gallery.


All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch und Cranach Stiftung