The Satyr Family

Date
ca. 1526

Medium
oil on panel

Dimension
82.9 x 56.2 cm

Date
ca. 1526

Medium
oil on panel

Dimension
82.9 x 56.2 cm

The Satyr Family is a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, the refined courtly painter to three Electors of Saxony. It was acquired through Nicholas Hall by the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
Signature and inscriptions

Signed at the left center, inscribed with the monogram (a winged serpent) of Lucas Cranach the Elder

Provenance

Possibly Prince Elector Maximilian I, 1573 – 1651

Possibly Lumley Family

Spink & Son, Ltd., sold to Robert Bland Bird

Sir Robert Bland Bird, second Bart., British, 1876 – 1960, by inheritance to his only child, Pamela Stephanie Helen Bird, 1960

Pamela Stephanie Helen Bird, viscountess de Mauduit

Dr. Otto Wertheimer, sold to Max Schmidheiny, 1963

Dr. h. c. Max Schmidheiny, 1908 – 1991, by inheritance to his son, Thomas Schmidheiny, 1991

Dr. Thomas Schmidheiny, sold through Hall & Knight, Ltd., (London, England) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003

Exhibited

Birmingham, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, Works of Art from Midland Houses 18 July–6 September 1953

Manchester, Manchester City Galleries, German Art 1400 – 1800 from Collections in Great Britain, 24 October–10 December 1961

Basel, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Lukas Cranach: Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, 15 June–8 September 8, 1974

London, Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, Temptation in Eden: Lucas Cranach’s Adam and Eve, 21 June–23 September, 2007.

Frankfurt, Städtische Galerie im Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Lucas Cranach: Meisterwerke, 23 November 2007–8 June 2008

Rome, Museo e Galleria Borghese, Lucas Cranach: L’altro Rinascimento, 13 October 2010–13 February 2011

Düsseldorf, Museum Kunst Palast, CRANACH. Meister – Marke – Moderne, 8 April 2017–30 July 2017

Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, The Renaissance Nude, 30 October 2018–2 June 2019

Literature

Ellis Kirkham Waterhouse, Notebooks, Vol. 29, Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 22 December 1948, accession no. 870204, p. 32.

Ellis Kirkham Waterhouse, Notebooks, Vol. 32, Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 14 May 1952, accession no. 870204, pp. 211-12.

Ellis Kirkham Waterhouse, “Some Notes on the Exhibition of ‘Works of Art from Midland Houses’ at Birmingham”, The Burlington Magazine 95, September 1953, no. 606, p. 306.

Works of Art from Midland Houses, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, exh. cat., Birmingham, 1953, p. 29, no. 145.

Fritz G. Grossmann, German Art 1400-1800 from Collections in Great Britain, Manchester City Galleries, exh. cat., Manchester, p. 36, no. 84, reproduced on the cover.

Michael Levey and Christopher White, “The German Exhibition at Manchester”, Burlington Magazine 103, December 1961, no. 705, p. 487.

Paul Pieper, “Deutsche Kunst 1400-1800. Ausstellung in der City of Manchester Art Gallery” Kunstchronik 15, no. 1, January 1962, pp. 3-4.

Dieter Koepplin and Tilman Falk, Lukas Cranach: Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, 2 vols., Kunstmuseum, exh. cat., Basel, 1974, vol. 1, p. 38, fig. 1; p. 317, pl. 19; p. 430; vol. 2, pp. 600-601, no. 500.

Max Friedländer and Jakob Rosenberg, The Paintings of Lucas Cranach, London, 1978, p. 122, no. 267, pl. 267.

Hubert Glaser, ed., Mitteilungen des Hauses der Bayerischen Geschichte. vol. 1, Quellen und Studien zur Kunstpolitik der Wittelsbacher vom 16. bis zum 18. Jarhundert, Munich, 1980, pp. 133, 139, pl. 34, fig. 62.

Monika Bachtler, Peter Diemer, and Johannes Erichsen, “Die Bestände von Maximilians I. Kammergalerie. Das Inventar von 1641/1642”, Quellen und Studien zur Kunstpolitik der Wittelsbacher vom 16. bis zum 18. Hubert Glaser, ed., Munich, 1980, p. 250, no. XV, 35.

Edgar Bierende, Lucas Cranach d. Ä. und der deutsche Humanismus: Tafelmalerei im Kontext von Rhetorik, Chroniken und Fürstenspiegeln, Munich, 2002, p. 423, n377.

Dieter Koepplin, “Ein Cranach-Prinzip”, Lucas Cranach: Glaube, Mythologie und Moderne, Werner Schade, ed., Hamburg, exh. cat., 2003, p. 159, fig. 86.

Campbell, Caroline, ed., Temptation in Eden: Lucas Cranach’s Adam and Eve, Courtauld Institute of Art, exh. cat., London, 2007, p. 79, under no. 1; p. 81, under no. 2; p. 85, under no. 3; pp. 88-89, no. 4, reproduced, entry by Anne Woollett; p. 122, under no. 16.

Bodo Brinkmann, ed., Cranach der Ältere, Städel Museum, exh. cat., Frankfurt, 2007, p. 324, ill.; pp. 340-41, no. 106, ill., entry by Gabriel Dette; p. 364, under no. 118.

Mark Evans, “‘Die Italiener, sonst so ruhmsüchtig, bieten Dir die Hand’: Lucas Cranach und die Kunst des Humanismus”, Cranach der Ältere, Bodo Brinkmann, ed., Städel Museum, exh. cat., Frankfurt, 2007, p. 58.

Dieter Koepplin, “Cranachs Bilder der Caritas im theologischen und humanistischen Geiste Luthers und Melanchthons.” Cranach der Ältere, Bodo Brinkmann, ed., Städel Museum, exh. cat., Frankfurt, 2007, p. 73.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections, 7th ed., Los Angeles, 2007, p. 95, reproduced.

Susan Foister, “Before the Fall: Adam and Eve and Some Mythological Paintings by Cranach”, Temptation in Eden: Lucas Cranach’s Adam and Eve, Courtauld Institute of Art, exh. cat., London, Caroline Campbell, ed., 2007, p. 59.

Peter Parshall, “Reviews: Parshall on Cranach […] Caroline Campbell, ed., Temptation in Eden: Lucas Cranach’s ‘Adam and Eve.’” The Art Bulletin 91, no. 2, June 2009, pp. 239-40.

Tiarna Doherty and Anne T. Woollett, Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms, rev. ed., Los Angeles, 2009, pp. 23-24, 58, reproduced.

Anna Coliva and Bernard Aikema, eds., Cranach: L’altro Rinascimento – A Different Renaissance, Galleria Borghese, exh. cat., Milan, with 24 ORE Cultura, 2010, pp. 22, 23, 152-55, 156, no. 8, reproduced.5

Gunnar Heydenreich, Daniel Görres and Beat Wismer, eds., Lucas Cranach der Ältere: Meister, Marke, Moderne, Museum Kunst Palast with Hirmer, exh. cat., Dusseldorf, 2017, pp. 228, 231 (no. 131), reproduced.

Thomas Kren, eds., The Renaissance Nude, J. Paul Getty Museum, exh. cat., Los Angeles, 2018, p. 34, under no. 1; pp. 94-96, no. 25, reproduced.

Scott Allan, Davide Gasparotto, Peter Björn Kerber, and Anne T. Woollett, J. Paul Getty Museum, Masterpieces of Painting: J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2018, pp. 8-9, 44, reproduced.

Essay

Lucas Cranach the Elder drew from both native German and classical literary sources to depict a family of fauns in a woodland clearing. Although the precise subject of this painting remains obscure, it recalls the legendary “wild man” found in medieval mythology, as well as idyllic forest dwellers, such as fauns, described in Greek poetry.

The male faun sits on a rock, staff in hand, with a slain lion at his feet. He gazes toward a woman–presumably his wife–and their children. Dark foliage mediates between them and a stunning landscape: a lake, a village, mountains, and a castle in the distance. Isolated and protected from civilization, these figures represent the wild traits of mankind. On the other hand, the faun’s humanlike appearance, the woman’s calm demeanor, and the baby’s tender gesture suggest more civilized aspects of society.

Aside from this broader narrative, Cranach’s finely worked style draws attention to incidental elements, such as the lion’s fur and a man and a horse and cart climbing the castle-topped mountain. The lion’s stylized body fits perfectly in the painting’s lower left corner. Such attention to detail and Cranach’s complex subject matter appealed to the refined tastes of his learned, courtly patrons. ❖

 

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