Lukas Cranach the Younger 500

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Portrait-medallion of M. Luther by L. Cranach d.J. on title page of P. Melanchthon’s biography of Luther (F*.12.44(F))

500 years ago, on October 4, 1515, the Renaissance artist Lukas Cranach the Younger was born. To mark this anniversary a number of major exhibitions are being put on in Germany. The main exhibition is being held in Wittenberg, the town associated with Luther and the Reformation and where Luther famously nailed his 95 theses to the church door. Wittenberg was also the location of Cranach’s workshop which he took over from his father, Lukas Cranach the Elder. Both father and son were closely linked with the Reformation as they created portraits of the main protagonists of the Reformation and painted altar pieces with images that served the cause of the Reformation.

The exhibition in Wittenberg is unique as it is the first one to be solely devoted to the work of Lukas Cranach the Younger. Until now scholars have considered his work mainly in the context of the work of his father. The exhibition and related publications aim to consider Cranach the Younger as an artist in his own right. The exhibition has been designated as “State Exhibition Saxony-Anhalt”, thus giving it further significance.

To complement the exhibition in Wittenberg two more Cranach-related exhibitions are being held in nearby Dessau and Wörlitz. The exhibition in Dessau, entitled “Cranach in Anhalt”, concentrates on Cranach’s commissions and patrons in the Anhalt Region while the exhibition in Wörlitz, “Cranach im Gotischen Haus in Wörlitz”, presents the collection assembled by Leopold III, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau.

Substantial catalogues have been published to accompany the exhibitions as well as a volume of conference proceedings from a symposium held in Wittenberg in 2014. The library is acquiring all of these and some are already available for consultation:

Lucas Cranach der Jüngere : Entdeckung eines Meisters , catalogue of the Wittenberg exhibition: S950.b.201.2396

Lucas Cranach der Jüngere und die Reformation der Bilder, conference proceedings: S950.b.201.2397

Cranach im Gotischen Haus in Wörlitz, catalogue of the Wörlitz exhibition: C201.b.7284

Cranach in Anhalt : Vom alten zum neuen Glauben, catalogue of the Dessau exhibition: On order

Another recent addition to the library is Lucas Cranach der Jüngere : Maler, Unternehmer, Politiker by Barbara Beck which is a useful introductory biography: 2015.8.7307

The recent exhibitions and publications on Cranach the Younger will no doubt extend our knowledge of him and encourage further research. If you are not able to get to the exhibitions in Germany, looking at the related catalogues may be the next best thing.

Christian Staufenbiel

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