- Cranach, Lucas
- (the Elder, 1472-1553)German painter, print-maker, and illustrator of books. He was born at Kronach in Bavaria and trained by his father but came under the influence of the greatest German Renaissance artist, Albrecht Dürer. He lived for about two years in Vienna, where he absorbed the influence of the humanist circle dominated by Conrad Celtis and began producing religious paintings and landscapes. His well-known Flight into Egypt (1504) combines a religious theme and a landscape in a way that attracted attention from other German artists. About 1504 he settled in Wittenberg, where he became court painter to Frederick the Wise, elector of Saxony. Cranach was strongly attracted to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. He painted several portraits of Luther and made illustrations for Luther's German Bible and for Lutheran religious tracts. Luther did not approve the iconoclastic policies of many other Protestant leaders. He endorsed Cranach's work and encouraged him to create a style appropriate for Evangelical religious sentiment.Cranach became a successful artistic entrepreneur, employing his sons Hans and Lucas the Younger as well as a number of apprentices in a large and productive workshop. Later in life he also painted allegories that incorporated mythological and secular elements such as female nudes that show the influence of Italian art, but without capturing the cultural and iconographic sensibility of his Italian predecessors. In the best-known of these allegories, The Judgment of Paris (1530), the theme and the gently erotic female nudes express Italian influence, but Paris appears as a German knight in modern armor; and the three nude damsels are naked Northern women, not classical nudes, while the background is a clearly German landscape.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.