Lucas Cranach the Elder was a German painter and printmaker known for his mannered portraits of German royalty, along with biblical scenes which portray elongated, semi-erotic nudes. Cranach’s style of painting is noted for its use of dark outlines and arabesque forms. This focus on stark contrast is attributed to his concentration on woodcuts and engravings, rather than chiaroscuro or modeled color. Born Lucas Müller on October 4, 1472 in Kronach, Germany, little is known about Cranach’s early life but it is thought he trained in Bavaria. The earliest of his existing works date from about 1502, when he was 30 years old living in Vienna. While in Vienna, he changed his name from Müller to Cranach after his hometown of Cranach (Kronach). Shortly thereafter, he gained the attention of Duke Friedrich III the Elector of Saxony, who assigned Cranach as a painter of his court in Wittenberg. He was a part of what is known as the German Renaissance, which included his contemporaries Matthias GrünewaldAlbrecht Dürer, and Hans Holbein the Younger. Cranach’s works are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Prado Museum in Madrid, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The artist died at age 81 on October 16, 1553 in Weimar, Germany.


Image: The unequal couple