Lucretia, Hans Baldung Grien
Hans Baldung Grien
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Related external works


Agostino Veneziano nach Baccio Bandinelli, Cleopatra, 1515, Kupferstich, 218 x 135 mm. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Inv. Nr. 49.97.73 (Bartsch XIV.158.193)

Albrecht Dürer, Eva (Sündenfall), 1507, Öl auf Holz, 209 x 80 cm. Madrid, Museo del Prado, Inv. Nr. P02178

part of the same work group

Hans Baldung Grien, Lucretia, 1519, Feder in Schwarz, weiß gehöht, auf braun grundiertem Papier, 283 x 176 mm. Schlossmuseum, Graphische Sammlung, Weimar (Koch [1941] 116)

Hans Baldung Grien

Lucretia, 1520

302 x min. 139 mm
maximum width
142 mm
Physical Description
Dark-brown ink, grey-brown washes, highlighted with white (with ink or brush), on laid paper primed in brown
Inventory Number
Object Number
649 Z
Can be presented in the study room of the Graphische Sammlung (special opening hours)


About the Work

The art of chiaroscuro drawing blossomed in Germany during the age of Dürer. For this technique, a coloured sheet of paper was used to provide the "medium" shade, against which both the light and the dark parts formed a contrast. The result was a remarkable effect that reflected light and could convey the concepts of three-dimensionality, texture and space. Hans Baldung, also known as Grien, was a master of this process. He had trained in Dürer's workshop as a young man and later became the defining painter on the Upper Rhine during the first half of the sixteenth century. The fate of Lucretia, the daughter of patricians, was taken from Livy's work on Roman history. She was raped by a relative, and in order to reinstate her own honour and that of her family, she stabbed herself to death before the eyes of her husband and her father. During the Renaissance, reading the works of the authors of antiquity was part of the education of the upper classes. The example of Lucretia became a popular allegory of chastity and marital fidelity - with the erotic element involved in the story no doubt contributing to its popularity.

Baldung shows Lucretia in front view and as a full figure, stabbing herself below the breast with the dagger in her right hand, while her left hand opens her robe to reveal her defiled body. The artist has designed this with tremendous sensuous refinement: the dark and light sections make her look young and radiant, an impression heightened by the spatial effect created with supreme mastery between her legs and her robe. By throwing the elegant position of Lucretia's legs slightly off balance through the movement of her head and left arm, Baldung suggests both the proffering and the withdrawal of her body. A masterly chiaroscuro drawing of this kind was most probably created as an independent artwork for an educated, art-loving urban public.

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