Lucas Cranach, Kronach 1472 - 1553 Weimar (ARCHIVED)

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Lucas Cranach, Kronach 1472 - 1553 Weimar (ARCHIVED)

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Lucretia, signed with the artist’s device and dated 1526, oil on panel 58 x 38 cm

Acquired by the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia

In his book, The Nude, Lord Clark writes that ‘Cranach’s skill in combining sinuous line with shallow internal modelling in unprecedented in the north, and reminds us of Egyptian reliefs. With this sense of style went a highly developed appetite which allowed him to convince us that his personal taste in physical beauty is our own. He takes the Gothic body with its narrow shoulders and prominent stomach, and gives it long slender legs, a slender waist and gently undulating outline. As a result his naked charmers are as greatly to our taste today as they were to that of Johan Frederick the Magnanimous.’

The Chrysler Lucretia is one of the earliest in Cranach’s great series of female nudes. Although he had painted a Venus and Cupid (Dresden) as early as 1509 and two Lucretias around 1518, it was not until the late 1520s, when the Count of Saxony had acquitted a taste for the delicately erotic, that Cranach felt free to develop, in numerous variations, this subject so congenial to his somewhat playful imagination. Many of his most piquant tributes to female beauty depict Lucretia and Judith - heroines whose dramas hinge on a loss of chastity. In at least one instance he combined the two subjects in a diptych (Dresden), which was almost certainly painted for Johan Frederick. Thus two themes dear to the Reformation mind, female virtue and the abasement of tyrants, became in Cranach’s panels a lofty pretext for images of candid sensuality.

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