Portrait of a Saxon Noblewoman

Lucas Cranach the Elder1534

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

Cranach the Elder was a portraitist who was assigned to the court of Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, in 1504 and immediately found great acclaim. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to identify this Saxon noblewoman, in spite of the letter "W" in her hair and the portrait of John-Frederick of Saxony on the medallion she is wearing around her neck. Identifying her was all the more difficult because Cranach’s portraits tended to repeat the same human form and are therefore very alike. The many gold chains, which are indisputably wedding jewelry, suggest it is the portrait of a married woman.

Her costume is highly decorative. Pearls and jewels rival one another in their sophistication, and the slits in her sleeves are lined with black, allowing droplet-shaped glimpses of her white dress. The opulent materials and strong colors do not detract from the careful depiction of the face. The shades chosen—exclusively white, black, and orange—give the portrait incomparable unity and strength.

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  • Title: Portrait of a Saxon Noblewoman
  • Creator: Lucas Cranach, dit l'Ancien
  • Date Created: 1534
  • Physical Dimensions: 53 x 37,5 cm
  • Provenance: Achat en 1892
  • Rights: Photo : © Lyon MBA - Gilles Alonso
  • Medium: Oil on wood


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