Cranach - Altarpiece of St Heinrich [left movable wing]: St John Baptist [recto]; St Sixtus [verso]
Altarpiece of St Heinrich [left movable wing]: St John Baptist [recto]; St Sixtus [verso]
Lucas Cranach the Elder and Workshop
Domstift Merseburg
20.02.2020 - 02:43
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Painting:
CDA ID / Inventory NumberDE_DSM_NONE-DSM001b
Persistent Linkhttp://lucascranach.org/DE_DSM_NONE-DSM001b
FR (1978) No.FR-none
Title:
Altarpiece of St Heinrich [left movable wing]: St John Baptist [recto]; St Sixtus [verso][cda 2015]
Attribution:
Lucas Cranach the Elder and Workshop[Cat. Merseburg 2006, 49-55]
Dating:
1537[Vereinigte Domstifter, revised 2014]
1535 - 1537[Cat. Merseburg 2006, 49-55]
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Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerVereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz
RepositoryDomstift Merseburg
LocationMerseburg
Dimensions:
Dimensions of support: 167.5 x 67 cm [Cat. Merseburg 2006, 49-55]
Support:
Painting on wood [cda 2015]
Signature / Date:
none [cda 2015]
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
Original Inscriptions:
- on the halo: 'S: IOHANNES DER TEVFFER' [recto] - on the halo: 'SANCTVS SIXTVS' [verso] [cda 2015]
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
none [cda 2015]
Description:
Recto: full-length depiction of St John the Baptist facing right against a dark background. The Baptist is wearing the typical fur robe and holds a lamb with a victory flag on his arm, while making the gesture of blessing or victory. Recto: full-length depiction of St Sixtus facing right against a dark background. He is wearing bishop's vestments. [Görres, cda 2015]
Provenance:
- part of the St Heinrich Altarpiece in the chapel of St Michael in Merseburg cathedral and belonging to the monument dedicated to the donor Bishop Sigismund von Lindenau
[Cat. Merseburg 2006, 49-55]
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Sandner 2015 A
Exhib. Cat. Merseburg 2015
Ramm 2015159-162Figs.22, 25
Cat. Merseburg 200649-55II.1
Deckert 193532
Flechsig 1900 A131
Schuchardt 1851 C92-93349
Interpretation / History / Discussion:

A copy of the contract for the Heinrich Altarpiece that went to ,meyster Lucas Mahlern’ has been found. In the contract the iconography of the panels as well as a lost predella are described in great detail and should be assembled in the following order: Interior: St John the Baptist – The Crucifixion – Emperor Henry II.

Exterior: Maximus – Pope Sixtus – Lawrence – Romanus

Reverse: St John the Evangelist – The Lamentation – Bartholomew

Predella: Christ Blessing

In accordance with this new documented evidence the panels have been rearranged with one exception. The arrangement in the contract was evidently changed during the execution as in the constellation described Maximus and Bartholomew would both be facing outwards. This wing panel has been turned around.

[Ramm 2015, 159-161]

The images in the cda show the winged altarpiece before the discovery of this document and the associated rearrangement.
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 01.03.2015
  • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
  • Infrared reflectography
  • Lucas Cranach the Elder and Workshop - Domstift Merseburg - Altarpiece of St Heinrich [left movable wing]: St John Baptist [recto]; St Sixtus [verso] - Infrared ImagesLucas Cranach the Elder and Workshop - Domstift Merseburg - Altarpiece of St Heinrich [left movable wing]: St John Baptist [recto]; St Sixtus [verso] - Infrared ImagesLucas Cranach the Elder and Workshop - Domstift Merseburg - Altarpiece of St Heinrich [left movable wing]: St John Baptist [recto]; St Sixtus [verso] - Infrared Images
  • Underdrawing
  • St John the Baptist [recto]

    DESCRIPTION

    Tools/Material:
    - fluid black medium, brush

    Type/Ductus:
    - relatively economic freehand underdrawing
    - thin lines; frequently very short

    Function:
    - relatively binding for the final painted version; lines delineate the contours and define the facial features; no representation of volume

    Deviations:
    - minor alterations made during the painting process to clearly define forms; almost no changes; handwritten text at the bottom right next to St John’s foot


    St Sixtus [verso]


    DESCRIPTION

    - an underdrawing is not readily visible because an almost complete painting of another saint (or the same saint with another attribution) exists beneath the present version (see hands in the chest area)


    INTERPRETATION

    Attribution:
    - assistant working for Lucas Cranach the Elder

    [Sandner, Smith-Contini, Heydenreich, cda 2015]
    • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
    • photographed by: Ingo Sandner