The Frankfurt Altarpiece of the Exaltation of the True Cross, Adam Elsheimer
Adam Elsheimer
The Frankfurt Altarpiece of the Exaltation of the True Cross
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Adam Elsheimer

The Frankfurt Altarpiece of the Exaltation of the True Cross, 1603 – 1605

48.6 x 36.2 x 0.01 cm
Physical Description
Oil on copper
Inventory Number
See separate text for information on purchase and inventory numbers of the panels.
On display, 2nd upper level, Old Masters, room 10


About the Acquisition

When the Städelsches Kunstinstitut was founded, the Frankfurt artist Adam Elsheimer immediately became the focus of its collecting policy and research interest. Johann Friedrich Städel himself believed he owned a work by the famous Baroque fine artist. Especially after the Second World War, intensive efforts began with regard to the artist, culminating in an Elsheimer exhibition in 1966. In those days, no one could have foreseen that a small miracle would soon take place. Between 1971 and 1981 the Städel was able to reunite the seven-part Altar of the Holy Cross, familiar from archive material, by purchasing the five remaining panels scattered across the world. The Museums-Verein, which had been founded in 1899 and reorganised in 1957, played the main role in financing the purchase with its specific fundraising campaigns.


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Work Data

Basic Information

The Frankfurt Altarpiece of the Exaltation of the True Cross
The Altarpiece of the Holy Cross
Part Number / Total
6a / 6a-6g
Production Place
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Oil on copper

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
Public Domain
See separate text for information on purchase and inventory numbers of the panels.

Work Content


  • 11D124 venerating the cross
  • 73E791 coronation of Mary by God the Father
  • 11HH(HELENA) empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great; possible attributes: model of church, (royal) crown, crown of thorns, cross, three nails
  • 11G angels
  • 11H saints
  • 11I14 other groups of prophets
  • 11H(LAURENCE) the martyr and deacon Laurence of Rome; possible attributes: book, censer, cross, dalmatic, gridiron, palm, purse (or cup with golden coins)
  • 11H(STEPHEN) the deacon and (proto)martyr Stephen; possible attributes: censer, stones
  • 11H(AMBROSE) Ambrose, bishop of Milan; possible attributes: beehive, cradle with baby, three-knotted scourge
  • 11H(JEROME) the monk and hermit Jerome (Hieronymus); possible attributes: book, cardinal's hat, crucifix, hour-glass, lion, skull, stone
  • 11H(SEBASTIAN) the martyr Sebastian; possible attributes: arrow(s), bow, tree-trunk
  • 11H(GREGORY) pope Gregory the Great; possible attributes: dove, emperor Trajan
  • 11HH(CATHERINE) the virgin martyr Catherine of Alexandria; possible attributes: book, crown, emperor Maxentius, palm-branch, ring, sword, wheel
  • 11HH(MARY MAGDALENE) the penitent harlot Mary Magdalene; possible attributes: book (or scroll), crown, crown of thorns, crucifix, jar of ointment, mirror, musical instrument, palm-branch, rosary, scourge
  • 11H(FRANCIS) founder of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans), Francis(cus) of Assisi; possible attributes: book, crucifix, lily, skull, stigmata
  • 11H(DOMINIC) Dominic(us) Guzman of Calerueja, founder of the Order of Preachers (or Dominican (Black) Friars; possible attributes: book, dog with flaming torch, lily, loaf of bread, rosary, star
  • 11H(AUGUSTINE) Augustine, bishop of Hippo; possible attributes: arrows piercing his breast, book, child with spoon, flaming heart, heart (pierced with arrows), pen
  • 11I62(JONAH) male persons from the Old Testament (JONAH) (JONAH)
  • 71H story of David
  • 71C1 story of Abraham
  • 71C2 story of Isaac
  • 11H(MARK) Mark (Marcus) the evangelist, and bishop of Alexandria; possible attributes: book, (winged) lion, pen and inkhorn, scroll
  • 11H(JOSEPH) the foster-father of Christ, Joseph of Nazareth, husband of Mary; possible attributes: flowering rod or wand, lily, carpenter's tools
  • 11I62(ADAM & EVE) Adam and Eve (not in biblical context)
  • 11H(LUKE) Luke the evangelist; possible attributes: book, (winged) ox, portrait of the Virgin, surgical instruments, painter's utensils, scroll
  • 11H(BENEDICT) Benedict of Nurcia, abbot of Monte Cassino and founder of the Benedictine Order; possible attributes: aspergillum, book, cup (sometimes broken), raven with loaf, sieve (or tray)
  • 71P the story of the prophet Daniel; his visions and prophecies

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