Kronach 1471 - 1553 Weimar
500,000 – 3,000,000 USD +
Cranach’s accomplishments were in portraiture and paintings of religious and mythological subjects, as well as prints and drawings. Best known as court painter to the Electors of Saxony and the foremost artist of the Reformation, he also worked for the local merchant class and Catholic patrons such as the members of the Albertine line of Saxon princes and Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, one of Luther’s archenemies. Assisted by sons Hans and Lucas, Cranach directed a flourishing workshop which was responsible for executing many of his public commissions and an increasing number of private commissions after the 1520s, typically painting numerous variations of successful compositions whose syncopated Gothic linear rhythms and brilliant color give them a decorative appeal which is popular to this day. Remarkably, the quality of Cranach’s workshop production remained consistently high, especially the works signed by his son Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515–86). Paintings featuring courtly ladies, blithe nudes or femme fatales — Venus, Judith, Lucretia, Salome were particularly in vogue. His jewel-toned palette, compressed sense of space and strong graphic line have an undeniable appeal to the modern eye and influence artists such as Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), Otto Dix (1891–1969) and John Currin (b. 1962) as well as collectors of contemporary art.
Top 3 auction prices
Düsseldorf, Museum Kunstpalast, Cranach. Meister – Marke – Moderne, 8 April – 30 July 2017. Curated by Gunnar Heydenreich, Daniel Görres, and Beat Wismer.
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Renaissance and Reformation: German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach, 20 November 2016 – 27 March 2017. Catalogue contributions by Michael Eissenhauer, Dirk Syndram, Bernhard Maaz, Jeffrey Chipps Smith, and Julien Chapuis.
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-arts, Cranach et son Temps, 20 October 2010 – 23 January 2011; travelled to Paris, Musée du Luxembourg, 9 February – 23 May 2011. Curated by Guido Messling.
Frankfurt am Main, Städel Museum, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 23 November 2007 – 17 February 2008; travelled to London, Royal Academy of Arts, 8 March – 8 June 2008. Curated by Bodo Brinkmann.
Chemnitz, Städtische Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Cranach, 13 November 2005 – 12 March 2006. Curated by Karin Kolb and Harald Marx.
Hamburg, Bucerius Kunst Forum, Lucas Cranach : Glaube, Mythologie und Moderne (Lucas Cranach: Faith, Mythology and Modern Age), 6 April – 13 July 2003. Curated by Werner Schade.
Kronach, Festung Rosenberg, Lucas Cranach : Ein Maler-Unternehmer aus Franken, 17 May – 21 August 1994; travelled to Leipzig, Museum der Bildenden Künste, 7 September – 6 November 1994. Curated by Claus Grimm, Johannes Erichsen and Evamaria Brockhoff.
Basel, Kunstmuseum Basel, Lukas Cranach. Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Druckgraphik, 15 June – 8 September 1974. Curated by Dieter Koepplin and Tilman Falk.
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie Staatliche Museen, Lucas Cranach d. Ä. und Lucas Cranach d. J. Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Graphik, April – June 1937. Curated by Herbert Zimmermann.
Books on Cranach
Renaissance and Reformation: German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach, exh. cat., Munich, 2016.
Gunnar Heydenreich, Lucas Cranach the Elder: Painting Materials, Techniques and Workshop Practice, Amsterdam, 2007.
Werner Schade, Lucas Cranach: Glaube, Mythologie und Moderne, exh. cat., Ostfildern-Ruit, 2003.
Max J. Friedländer and Jakob Rosenberg, The Paintings of Lucas Cranach, rev. ed., trans. Heinz Norden, Ithaca, 1978.
Karel van Mander, The Lives of the Illustrious Netherlandish and German Painters, 1603/4, trans. Hessel Miedema, Doornspijk, 1994.