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 Lucas the Elder Cranach  (1472 - 1553)

/ KRAH-nahk/
About: Lucas the Elder Cranach


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Lived/Active: Germany      Known for: portrait, figure, religious painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Lucas Cranach
1472 (Kronach, Germany)


Self portrait -

Often Known For
portrait, figure, religious painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The following was written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California:

Lucas Cranach, the Elder, was born circa 1472 in the small town of Kronach in South Germany.  He took his name from his hometown but very little is known of his life before about 1500-1501, when he settled in Vienna and started working in the humanist circles associated with the newly founded university.  He seems to have spent his first years of training in his father's workshop.  His stay in Vienna was brief (he left in 1504), but in this period he painted some of his finest and more original works.  They include portraits, and several religious works in which he shows a remarkable feeling for the beauty of landscape characteristic of the Danube school.  In 1504 Cranach went to Wittenberg as court painter to Frederick III (the Wise), Elector of Saxony.

Lucas Cranach, the Elder was pre-eminently the painter of the German Reformation.  But his theological paintings were against the trend of his talent, and he excelled most when he was the least didactic.  Cranach delighted in portraiture, and his female portraits have a frank, childish gaze.  Had he lived today, modern publicity might have exploited him as the creator of the"Cranach girl"- a characterically round-faced creature with golden hair and clear eyes.

In the 1530s, the Cranach family ran a busy art factory in Wittenberg, Germany.  Cranach's paintings were eagerly sought by collectors, and his busy studio often produced numerous replicas of popular designs, particularly those in which he showed his skill at depicting female beauty.  He excelled at erotic nudes; he also had a penchant for pictures of coquettish women wearing large hats.  The most innovative works of his Wittenberg period, however, are probably his full-length portraits.

Cranach remained in Wittenberg until 1550 when he followed John Frederick (the Unfortunate), the last Saxon Elector into exile, in Augsburg.  During his time in Wittenberg he became extremely wealthy and one of the city's most respected citizens, serving as burgomaster for several years.  He died in 1553.

Sources include:
From the internet, Webmuseum, Paris
From the internet, Olga's

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