Station: [2] Wittenberg, early 16th century

Friedrich the Wise was Elector of Saxony from 1486 until his death in 1525. He developed Wittenberg into a royal seat – a town where science and the arts held sway. In 1502, he founded a university and commissioned artists such as Albrecht Dürer and Jacopo de' Barbari to work on a new palace and palace church. And then he summoned Lucas Cranach to his palace as court painter.

There’s a portrait of Friedrich the Wise hanging on the wall in here. The original was of course painted by Lucas Cranach. So were the portraits of the Saxon electors Johann and Johann Friedrich, for whom Cranach also worked as court painter. In total, Cranach spent 48 years in the service of the Electors of Saxony.

The plague swept through Wittenberg 13 times in the 16th century, and yet the population of this small town still increased. The university, and the reformers associated with it, played a significant part in the town’s development. Wittenberg also became a major centre of the German printing and publishing industry – to which Cranach, with his productive workshop, made a substantial contribution.  

On the floor, you can see the layout of the old town of Wittenberg. In the centre is the market with the Cranach Court where you are now, number 3 on the map. It was the first house Cranach bought in Wittenberg – in 1511. Before that, he’d lived at the Elector's palace, in quarters still known as the Court Painter's Room. In 1512 Cranach added to his property portfolio by buying the plot of land at Markt number 5, followed by the site in Schloss-Strasse – number 2 on the map.

Feel free to take a look around and meet Lucas Cranach's companions. Incidentally, the originals all came from his workshop.


All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch und Cranach Stiftung