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Summary Article: Cranach, Lucas
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(both: lō'käs krä'näkh), the Elder, 1472–1553, German painter and engraver. The son of a painter, he settled in Wittenberg c.1504 and was court painter successively under three electors of Saxony. There he maintained a flourishing workshop and was twice burgomaster. Cranach was a close friend of Martin Luther, whose doctrine he upheld in numerous paintings and woodcuts, and he has been called the painter of the Reformation. He was a rapid and prolific painter, and the work turned out by his studio is uneven in quality. Naïve and fanciful, often awkward in draftsmanship, it has, nonetheless, freshness and originality and a warm, rich palette. His portraits are particularly successful. Among his best-known works are Repose in Egypt (Gemäldgalerie, Staatliche Mus., Berlin-Dahlem); Judgment of Paris (Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe); Adam and Eve (Courtauld Inst., London); and Crucifixion (Weimar). The latter contains figures of Luther and Cranach. His many famous protraits include those of Elector John Frederick and Self-Portrait (Uffizi). Cranach was also an accomplished miniaturist. He produced a few copperplates and designs for woodcuts. His son and pupil Lucas Cranach, the Younger, 1515–86, continued the tradition of his father, whose workshop, signature, and popularity he inherited. Their work is often indistinguishable.

  • See study ed. by E. Ruhmer (1963).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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