By packing people together against a flat black backdrop, this painting makes its message of divine forgiveness as direct as possible. The scene depicts the story’s climax, when Christ defends an adulteress before an angry mob that wants to stone her to death for her sins. Christ deflates the mob with his compassionate, clever response: “Let any of you who is without sin cast the first stone.” To ensure viewers got the moral punch line, the artist inscribed it in German at the painting’s upper edge.



  • Title: Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery
  • Creator: Lucas Cranach the Younger
  • Date: after 1537
  • Location Created: Wittenberg, Germany
  • Provenance: Wesendonck auction, Cologne (Lempertz), Nov. 27, 1935, lot 24, on loan to Bonn, Provinzialmuseum (cat. 1927, nr. 50); Wesendonck collection, Hamburg, Germany; Gsell collection, Vienna, Austria; Schonemon Galleries, NYC; Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.; Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. to the Chrysler Museum, 1971.
  • Physical Dimensions: 29 1/4 x 48 in. (74.3 x 121.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on wood

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