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Lucas Cranach the Younger

Painter and Draughtsman

1515 in Wittenberg
1586 in Weimar

2 Works by Lucas Cranach the Younger


After training in his father's workshop, Lucas Cranach the Younger apparently worked there together with his older brother Hans. When the latter died on a trip to Italy, the younger son rose to greater influence; it is possible that his father made him his right-hand man or even a partner. The change in the workshop signet, which after 1537 depicted a serpent with folded wings, could be a symbolic expression of such a reorganisation. In 1541 the younger Cranach married Barbara Brück (1518-1550), the daughter of the electoral chancellor Georg Brück, then in 1551 as his second wife Magdalena Schurff (1531-1606), a niece of Philipp Melanchthon's. From the two marriages, he had nine children. Like his father, he held political offices as a council member, municipal treasurer, and mayor. When Cranach the Elder followed the elector Johann Friedrich into captivity in Innsbruck in 1550, the son took over the running of the workshop, which he inherited three years later. After the death of the younger Lucas, his son Augustin (1554-1595) took his place, but his work is obscure. The first two paintings for which Lucas Cranach the Younger must with relative certainty have been responsible are the large horizontal formats, created in 1551, with the sleeping or awakening 'Hercules and the Pygmies'. Painted for the Hall of Giants in the Dresden Palace and now in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, they allude to the attainment of the electoral dignity by Maurice of Saxony, here celebrated as a new Hercules. Subsequently, Cranach worked repeatedly for the Dresden court without formally entering into its service. However, the patronage of the Ernestine princes decreased; in 1555, as a last major commission, they ordered an epitaph altar for the Weimar church with the arch-Protestant allegory of the Fall and Salvation. Indicative of a search for new forms is the 'Colditz Altar' from 1584, a winged altar in the form of a heart for Augustus of Saxony now in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg. On the side, Cranach met the increasing demand from bourgeois and noble Protestants for epitaphs, in which donors were closely integrated into the depicted event in innovative ways. While he drew on the stock of compositions largely inherited from his father, in his portraits he also broke new artistic ground; in them, one discovers the younger Cranach's true contribution to European art history. Beginning in the mid-1550s, he produced numerous likenesses of princely patrons in three-quarter or full-figure views that are among the masterpieces of Mannerist portraiture in that they reconcile a domineering severity of composition with a sensitive stylisation of line, a wealth of precious fabric, and a monumental physicality. A light, often cool, palette with unusual tints and strong shadows on the neutral, often sky-blue or ice-grey, ground distinguishes these portraits, which are highly regarded far beyond the borders of Saxony. Typical examples are the portraits of the elector Joachim II of Brandenburg in the collection of the Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten in Potsdam and of Countess Elisabeth of Ansbach-Bayreuth in Munich's Alte Pinakothek.

Persons connected to Lucas Cranach the Younger