Portrait of an Unknown Man

Lucas Cranach the Younger

Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp

Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp

Lucas the Younger was a German Renaissance artist, known for his woodcarving and paintings. The youngest son of Lucas Cranach the Elder, he began his career in his father’s workshop. His reputation grew rapidly and, following his father’s death, he took over as head of the business. Lucas the Younger chiefly painted portraits and allegorical and mythological scenes. The style of his paintings referred to that of his father. Lucas Cranach the Elder had been given permission by the Elector of Saxony, Frederick III, whom he served as court painter, to adopt a coat of arms. The latter comprised a winged serpent with a red crown and bat’s wings, and with a gold ring set with a ruby in its mouth. The bat’s wings have been replaced in Lucas the Younger’s case by bird’s wings. He used the winged serpent to sign his paintings. Although the man in the portrait has not been identified, we can deduce certain information about him. An inscription in the painting tells us that he is 47 years old, which means he must have been born in 1510. He too has a coat of arms, this one depicting a helmet in the middle with two groups of three red anemones. He is finely dressed, with a robe and a fur around his neck. A small piece of a gathered linen collar peeks out from his robe – a precursor of the ruff. He wears a cap on his head and he also has two gold rings. He is sure to have been a wealthy German patrician.

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