Station: [8] Cranach as Court Painter

Leaving aside all his other activities, Lucas Cranach was first and foremost a court painter – for 48 years and in service to three electors. He proved to be truly multi-talented, creating paintings, woodcuts and engravings on religious and mythological subjects. He painted portraits of the electoral family, designed their coats of arms, was responsible for festive decorations and for furnishing the palaces with art works. He designed the elector’s dress as well as pieces of furniture for the elector’s court. 

But Cranach also sketched and painted important events that took place at court. Take a look at the picture in the light box. It’s called "The Tournament in the Market Square". The original is a woodcut from 1506, and it’s only about 37 cm high – that’s fourteen and a half inches.

Mounted knights gallop towards each other, wielding lances in hopes of unseating each other. The Wittenberg locals stand on the side lines and watch. One father has his son on his shoulders, so the child can have a better view of the tournament. Some women are deep in conversation. The old town hall still stands in the background. Cranach was recording a tournament, hosted by the Elector Friedrich the Wise, which took place in the market square, right in front of this house. He used the event to present a portrait of the mores of the time.

The woodcut is signed. Can you find the signature? The monogram LC and the year 1506 appear above the entrance to the house on the right. The picture was created before Cranach was granted the coat of arms with the serpent motif in 1508.

On the left-hand wall, there are two paintings from the 19th century. They show Friedrich the Wise and an unknown lady. They look like originals. But ...


All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch und Cranach Stiftung