He stood in his father’s shadow throughout his life. Even today – 500 years after he was born in Wittenberg – Lucas Cranach the Younger remains comparatively unknown. Yet his visually compelling style captured the ideas and issues that shaped the Reformation. And like his famous father, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Lucas Cranach the Younger was not only a virtuoso artist and master of his craft; he was also a pillar of the Reformation and a successful businessman.
Discover Lucas Cranach the Younger in the cradle of the Reformation on the 500th anniversary of his birth. For an entire year, Lutherstadt Wittenberg will become the Cranach City and the spirit of the Cranach workshops will be everywhere. The Lucas Cranach the Younger – Discovery of a Master exhibition awaits you in Wittenberg with the world’s first major art and art-historical exposition devoted exclusively to Lucas Cranach the Younger’s life and work. Experience the master at authentic sites, including Cranach’s Church, a location that testifies to the painter’s life from his baptism to his death. Visit the birth house of Cranach the Younger, and delve into the World of Cranach.
Or gain an entirely new perspective on Cranach’s art! Featuring an interactive and hands-on display complete with a workshop, Pop Up Cranach takes both young and old art lovers on an exciting journey through time and back into the world of the painter and his family. Come explore, participate and investigate with us!
As a young boy, Lucas Cranach the Younger learned in his father’s workshop how paintings are created and what impact they have. The Cranach workshop, which was also connected to a printer’s workshop, was the most important force in German art at the time. Lucas Cranach the Younger grew into a man of many talents and expanded his father’s workshop into a highly productive “art enterprise” that enjoyed success across Europe. The workshop’s richly colored paintings, which were of the highest quality, inspired the world.
Spot on Cranach
As a painter of Reformation altars and epitaphs, as an outstanding portraitist and talented draughtsman, Lucas Cranach the Younger gave a face to the Reformation and developed new pictorial forms for the Protestant faith. The compelling beauty of his works and their complex iconography will impress you – just as they filled his contemporaries with awe.
A rock castle in a landscape that might well have been situated along the Elbe River, somewhere in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. But perhaps this motif recalls the biblical Mount Zion of Jerusalem? The rock castle is a familiar theme in many of Cranach’s works.
Martin Luther also aligned himself alongside the disciples of Christ, disguised as the squire Junker Jörg. That was the name Luther adopted when the Elector of Saxony allowed Luther to be brought to Wartburg to protect him from the papal excommunication. A disciple reaches him a cup filled with wine – perhaps this is Cranach the Younger, depicting himself in the role of cupbearer in the scene?
Judas, who is traditionally depicted wearing a yellow robe, is seated on the stone bench, turned toward Christ and away from the rest. Christ reaches Judas a piece of bread as though intending to place his finger in his mouth – almost as though giving his own life and limb to the sinner, signifying that God’s mercy is granted even to the sinner.
Jesus has gathered with his twelve disciples for a final meal on the eve of his death. The roast lamb in the center of the table is uneaten and the silverware remains untouched. The bread that Jesus will give to his disciples has been sliced and placed on the table, but has not been broken. According to Luther, the Lord’s Supper – a phrase which he himself coined – was not to entail the breaking of bread but the distribution of the host in its place.
Who are the people depicted at Christ’s table? Are they just figure studies, or are they portraits of real people? Many believe they include the printers Hans Lufft, Georg Rhau and Bartholomäus Vogel but this remains unconfirmed. However, Luther’s didactic ambitions suggest that each figure represents a specific person who was intended to be recognizable to viewers.
John was the disciple whom Jesus loved best. As a close confidant, he sat by Jesus’s side at the Lord’s Supper, often leaning toward him. Cranach also depicts the two in close embrace, although each one is isolated and inward-looking, as though they could sense the coming calamity.
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Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt
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