Station: [18] Picture Gallery II

Why is that young woman reaching a hand into the elderly man's pocket? There! In the top row!

As well as painting portraits and religious subjects, the Cranachs also captured the lives of the local townsfolk in their works. Many variations of moralising everyday scenes like the "Unequal Couple" were painted at the Cranach workshop. The old man is in love and, dazzled by the young woman, is having his pocket picked. In the 16th century, such an unequal relationship was definitely considered problematic. It’s a theme that finds artistic expression in the Cranachs’ works.  

Other paintings reflect a new understanding of God. These are paintings created as the Reformation movement ran its course. Probably the most impressive work from this period is hanging in the centre. It’s in four parts and shows the Reformation altar of St. Mary's in Wittenberg, where Luther preached for many years. The Reformation altar is a work by the Cranachs and their workshop.

The panel on the left shows the baptism of Jesus at a large, circular white font. The godfather is Philipp Melanchthon. Along with Martin Luther, he was the most important of the reformers. The centre panel shows the Last Supper. Here, you see Martin Luther on the far right, accepting a chalice from the hand of a young man. The panel on the right features Pastor Johannes Bugenhagen in front of a confessional. He was one of Martin Luther’s companions. The predella, the plinth painting with Jesus on the cross, shows Martin Luther giving a sermon. The parishioners include Cranach the Elder and Katharina von Bora, Luther's wife. The altarpiece was completed in around 1547 and erected in the church in the same year. The original is still there, and well worth a visit.


All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch und Cranach Stiftung