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The Birth of John the Baptist

Lucas Cranach the Elder1518

Skokloster Castle

Skokloster Castle

This religious motif by Cranach, signed and dated with the bewinged snake 1518, depicts the newly born child being bathed by two women while Elizabeth is lying in bed. At the center back are two women, the one on the left is holding a plate, the other a spoon.

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Details

  • Title: The Birth of John the Baptist
  • Date Created: 1518
  • artist: Lucas Cranach the Elder, his studio?
  • Tags: German renaissance
  • Provenance: Carl Gustaf Wrangel (1613 – 76) 1676; Skokloster Castle
  • Physical Dimensions: w520 x h650 mm (Without frame)
  • Artist info: Lucas Cranach the Elder is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential masters of the German renaissance. Born as the son of a painter in the town of Kronach, Cranach initially studied under his father before he left his hometown for various travels, most notably Vienna 1503-04. The single most important event in the progress from young artist to renaissance master came when he was summond to Wittenberg as court painter to Frederick III of Saxon in 1505, where the humanistic ideas of the times flourished. Wittenberg was also, from 1508, the home of Martin Luther who was named professor in theology at the new university, established by Frederick in 1502. This period of time that represented the breaking point between the old world and the new, driven by the ideas of the renaissance, was the foundation for the multiple expressions in the works of Cranach. His large numbers of portraits are often conducted in a realistic and naturalistic style. The same can be said regarding his paintings of mythological themes where the renaissance ideas of life now had opened up a whole new set of antique motifs to explore. Although Cranach abandoned Catholicism for Protestantism there is not a direct change of motifs in his religious paintings. He continued to paint scenes with The Virgin and different Saints through out his entire career alongside themes more connected to the thoughts of Luther like Christ and the adulteress.
  • Additional info: The painting was possibly taken as war booty from Munich 1632.
  • Type: Oil on panel

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