CRANACH, kriVnao, LUCAS (1472-1553). A German painter. born in Upper Franconia. There is much dispute in regard to his family name, but it. has been conclusively shown by Schn ell:Ira, on Cranach's own testimony, that it was Cranach was a pupil of his father, and in 1504 became Court painter to Frederick the Wise. Elector of Saxony, at Wittenberg, by whom lie was held in high repute. His office included the duties of master of ceremonies at Court. and besides this he found time for different business ventures at Wittenberg. In 1519 he was elected chairman of the town council: he became burgo master in 1537, and again in 1540. Cranach was in equal favor with the two following Elec tors of Saxony. and for two years remained with John Frederick during his imprisonment. He died at Weimar, October 16, 1553.
Cranach has been called the painter of the Reformation, because of his active part in spread ing its doctrines. This he did by means of paintings and woodcuts ridiculing the Pope and explaining the teachings of the Reformers, and by his numerous portraits of Luther and Me lanchthon. who were both his personal friends. Beeause of this activity and also on account of his great productiveness, he became the control ling influence in the art of middle and northern Germany, and founded what may be called the Saxon School. He painted with great facility— in fact, the inscription upon his gravestone gives him the title of 'celerrinius pictor; ilis early paintings were carefully executed, but in later life he did much negligent work. Ile paid great attention to detail, for which reason his smaller pictures were more attractive. His color was bright and clear, but his drawing was deficient, and lie failed utterly whenever lie attempted to represent the nude on a large scale. His work was always original, and though we see the influ ence of the Renaissance in his mythological sub jects, his art was thoroughly German and na tional. It was, moreover, nnif and rich in fan
tasy, being best wherever there was a chance for genre.
Cranaeh's works survive in large numbers, especially in the German galleries. But he in trusted so much to his large school of pupils that it is difficult to decide how much is actually due to him. Among his best work* are the "Repose in Egypt" (1504), now in Leipzig; "Christ Blessing the Children," in the Baring collection in London; "Samson and Delilah," in the Museum of Augsburg, and the "Fountain of Youth," in the Berlin Museum. All of these pictures possess a charming naivetC:. Of his larger religiout paintings, good examples are the "Marriage of Saint Catherine," in the Cathe dral of Erfurt, of his earliest period, and his last great work, the "Crucifixion." in the town church of Weimar. This depicts the object of the Reformation, quaintly introducing the figures of Luther and of Cranach himself. His best works are probably his portraits, for in these the detailed execution is more appropriate. But even here he falls far short of the strength of character of Diirer and Holbein. Among the best are Albrecht of Mainz as Saint Jerome," in the Berlin SNIuseum; John Frederick of Saxony, in Dresden; and an "Unknown Fe male" (No. 291), in the National Gallery, Lon don. His oft-repeated portraits of Luther and Melanchthon exercised a very great influence in spreading the Reformation. Cranach was also an excellent painter of miniatures, as may be seen in the album of the University of Witten berg, now at Halle, and especially in John Fred erick's "Book of Tourneys," now at Coburg, a work of 144 leaves. He also executed a few copper plates and a large number of drawings far woodcuts.
Consult: Kugler, German, Flemish, and Dutch Schools (Eng. trans.. London, IS98) ; Schn rd t, Cranach des iilteren Leber and Werke (Leipzig, 1S55-71) ; Warnecke, Cranach der O kra 1S79) ; Lindau, Lucas Cranach (Leipzig, 1SS3).