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This drawing, notable for its extremely wide format, is a preliminary study for a painting held by the Royal Collection in Hampton Court. It depicts the fourteen ‘Holy Helpers’, each shown with their respective attributes. From left to right, we see St. Vitus with the cockerel, and behind him St. Pantaleon, whose hands are nailed to his head. In front of him, we see the founder of monasteries, St. Aegeidius, whose hind has been struck by an arrow. Then at the front is St. Wolfgang, Bishop of Regensburg and founder of churches, seen with an axe and model of a church, behind whom stands a bishop, St. Dionysus, putting his hands to his head, and St. Erasmus, suffering from wind. At the centre is the gigantic bulk of St. Christopher, who divides the composition into two distinct halves. He looks downwards pensively, supporting himself on a tree trunk, although his vast body still buckles under the weight of the world in the form of the infant Jesus, who sits upon his right shoulder, holding a globe and giving a blessing. To his right is the knight St. George, shown with lance and dragon, next to whom stands St. Laurence holding a gridiron, and St. Margaret, also portrayed with a dragon. Depicted in clearly delineated gradations of depth are St. Catherine (with wheel), St. Barbara, shown with a stag bearing the sign of the cross, and finally, completing the composition on the far-right, is St. Agathius with his bough of thorns. Two of the saints, Wolfgang and Laurence, do not usually form part of the traditional pictorial programme. They replace the otherwise canonical St. Aegidius and St. Cyrisakus. This deviation from the ‘normal’ programme is shared by another work, which is held at Hampton Court. Like our drawing, this painting (from the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder) is characterized by its wide format and resemblance to a predella.

Details

  • Title: The Fourteen Holy Helpers
  • Creator: Lucas Cranach the Elder
  • Date: 1525 - 1530
  • Physical Dimensions: w31.4 x h12.2 cm
  • Type: Drawing
  • Medium: Quill in brown, gray washed
  • Inv.-No.: KdZ 5644
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Jörg P. Anders │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Michael Roth
  • Collection: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist Place of Death: Weimar, Germany
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 1472 - 16.10.1553

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