Cranach - Epitaph for Prince Joachim of Anhalt
Epitaph for Prince Joachim of Anhalt
Lucas Cranach the Younger
Ev. Kirchgemeinde St. Johannis und St. Marien, Dessau
24.04.2019 - 18:09
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberDE_JD_NONE-JD001
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FR (1978) No.FR-none
Epitaph for Prince Joachim of Anhalt[cda 2013]
Dessau Last Supper[Ev. Kirchgemeinde St. Johannis und St. Marien 2014]
Dessau Altarpiece of the Last Supper[Schulze 2004, 186]
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Lucas Cranach the Younger [Schade 1974, 96]
Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerEv. Kirchgemeinde St. Johannis und St. Marien, Dessau
RepositoryEv. Kirchgemeinde St. Johannis und St. Marien, Dessau
Dimensions of support: 257.5 x 209 [Mieth 1993, 28]
Painting on lime wood [Mieth 1993, 28]
Signature / Date:
Artist's insignia bottom left winged serpent with dropped wings, facing left, and dated '1565' [cda 2013]
The painting depicts the Last Supper, whereby leading representatives of the reformation replace the apostles. Only Judas is shown separated, seated at the side of the table, Christ serves him something to eat. Set apart from the event by the front bench Duke Joachim of Anhalt kneels in the foreground wearing sumptuous robes and with his hands in an attitude of prayer. Standing beside a large bowl of water a cupbearer serves cold drinks and offers them to the participants of the dinner party. The signet ring on his left hand suggests, that this may be a self-portrait of Lucas Cranach the Younger. At the back of the stately renaissance room stands a group of five men, that have been identified as members of the Anhalt ducal house. On the right further dishes are handed to a servant through a service hatch. [Görres, cda 2013]
- from the church of St. Marien, Dessau
- castle inventory from 1693: in a room before the large salon near the winding stair: 'In der ersten Cammer darbey 1 große Schilderei des Nachtmahl des Herrn 1 große Schilderei mit dem Crucifix 1 große Schilderei mit dem Ölberg' [LHASA, Dessau, Abt, A 13 b, Nr. 10, Blatt 56][1]
- since 1992 in the Johanniskirche, Dessau
[1][Melzer 2005, 57, Fn. 11]
[cda 2013]
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Nurre 2015261-264Fig. 4
Waterman 2015285, Fn. 28
Noble 2015293, 295
Werner 20159
Exhib. Cat. Weimar 201571, 74
Melzer 201520
Rebmann 2015217, 219, 223, 2251
Rhein 201549
Wolf 2015169, Fn. 6, 171, Fn. 22
Oexle 200953-79
Ermischer 200744
Roch-Lemmer 2007313-325
Melzer 200548, 57 Fn. 11
Chamonikola 2005 B27(English version 12]
Schulze 2004186-191
Boettcher 200362-64
Findeisen 2001171-186
Rabenau 19972-41
Mieth 199328-39
Schade 1993 A21-27
Schade 197495, 96, 390pl. 250
Schade 1968 B70-71
Thulin 195596-109
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 01.07.2013
  • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
  • Infrared reflectography
  • Lucas Cranach the Younger - Ev. Kirchgemeinde St. Johannis und St. Marien, Dessau - Epitaph for Prince Joachim of Anhalt - Infrared Images
  • Underdrawing

    - dry drawing material; dark chalk

    - grid
    - relatively detailed underdrawing
    - delicate, fine lines
    - occasional hatching-strokes

    - relatively binding for the final painted version; lines delineate contours and indicate the essential features; occasional representation of volume with hatching-strokes

    - alterations made during the painting process; numerous small changes


    - Lucas Cranach the Younger and workshop

    - executed with reference to a pre-existing design

    [Smith, Sandner, Heydenreich revised 2014]
    • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
    • photographed by: Ingo Sandner
    • Date: 1992
    • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
    • Ground and Imprimatura
    • The top and bottom edges of the panel were fixed with battens before the application of the ground. A barbe along each horizontal edge confirms this.
      Whether the original frame was employed for this purpose can not be ascertained (compare with 'Crucifixion' documentation), as it no longer exists.
      The sides of the panel remained unframed until the painting was finished. The ground and paint layers extend to the edge of the panel.
      The traditional chalk/glue ground was applied in numerous layers and smoothed.
      An isolating layer or a thin, very pale imprimatura toned slightly with ochre was applied after the initial underdrawing stage (?)
    • Framing
    • - new frame

      [Mieth 1993, 7, 8, 28, 35, 73, 74]
    • Paint Layers and Gilding
    • The subsequent paint layers were executed in mixed media, the light areas were applied first and then the dark area.
      First an appropriate base tone was applied for the flesh paint, the hair and in part the robes as well as adjoining light areas.
      The flesh paint was applied wet-in-wet, blurring the transition between light and shadow, with only a few economic contours, whereby different hands can be detected (see x-radiograph).
      The lead white highlights on the portrait of Joachim, Duke of Anhalt and K. Cruciger were applied thickly and exhibit soft transitions (see x-radiograph).
      The marbled background architecture of the room, the tiles on the floor and in part the robes were executed employing the same technique.
      In contrast areas painted with an opaque to impasto application were executed very meticulously, nevertheless in part delicately modelled contours were carelessly overlapped. (Tiles in the background bordering on B. Bernard's robes).
      The white tablecloth with an impasto edging also overlaps the contours of some completed objects so that it appears stereotyped (see x-radiograph).
      Final ornamental details on the robes, architecture and the portraits (hair, contours of the eyes and mouths) were added with delicate, impasto brushstrokes.
      A conscious decission was made not to carry out any further examinations like cross-sections or pigment and media analysis as these were not strictly necessary to complete the treatment.
    • Underdrawing
    • The underdrawing lies directly over the ground.
      Two designs for the Dessau Last Supper have survived [Schade 1993 A, 23].
      The infrared photographs confirm that a one-to-one preparatory drawing was made. The outlines were transferred to the ground by pouncing through a cartoon with holes (?), after first drawing a grid with a fine, hard point.
      It may be assumed that this stage was for the greater part carried out by the workshop and concluded with the application of an isolating layer or a thin, very pale imprimatura toned slightly with ochre.
      The underdrawing of the portraits reveal the work of a number of hands:
      - loose, confident brush drawing with a black, very diluted, waterbased ink, shadows applied as a wash, probably by Lucas Cranach the Younger (e.g. Portrait of J. Pfeffinger)
      - contours confidently drawn with a soft point or charcoal (e. g. Portrait of Lucas Cranach the Younger)
      - pen and ink drawing (quill?) with black waterbased ink, shadows indicated with hatching-strokes (e. g. Portrait of J. Foster) workshop production, probably copied without any personal artistic input.
    • Support
    • - lime wood; 17 vertically aligned planks, with the following widths (reverse, from left to right):
      11; 12.5; 10; 11.5; 12.5; 13; 13.5; 11; 9.5; 12.5; 8; 10.5; 13.5; 11.5; 10; 11; 18.5 cm
      - two chamfered movable cross-members were inserted into the panel when it was constructed, with the following widths: top: 8.5 (l.), 9.5 (r.) cm; bottom: 9 (l.), 10 (r.) cm
      - after the single planks were glue-joined the reverse of the panel was only smoothed in the area near the cross-members
        • Date: 1984
        • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
        • X-radiography
          • created by: Hochschule für Bildende Kunst, Dresden
          • Date: 1970
          • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
          • Infrared photography
            • photographed by: Institut für Denkmalpflege, Berlin
            Condition Reports:
            • Date: 1992
            • Summary of the attached pdf (in German): Condition of the support, ground and paint layers - a characteristic network of cracks common for paintings on wooden panel affects the ground, paint layers and in part the varnish and can be observed to varying degrees in correlation with the structure of the wood and the paint layers. - some drying cracks in both glazes and medium rich opaque layers - some cupping and paint loss as well as tenting - the panel responds with relative stability to climatic fluctuations - damage caused by water drops and splashes of lime - mould affecting in part the ground and the paint layers - aktive woodworm - coating containing lead white and oil on the reverse [from 1821 and may have been applied after combating active woodworm] - splits and losses in the support, in part open joins - some scratches - numerous discoloured retouches [Mieth 1992, 9, 10]
              History of Restoration:
              • Date: 1992
              • Summary of the attached pdf (in German) - active woodworm treated with nitrogen gas - consolidation of wood; impregnation and reconstruction of the corner, after attaching it with dowels application of fill material - surface cleaning, no varnish removal - removal of overpaint - partial adjustment (thinning) of the varnish in the areas where overpaint was removed - retouched with watercolours and lean oil/resin paint - protective coating - new frame constructed to correspond with the other panels - a backboard of aluminium and acrylic was attached [Mieth 1993, 76-107]
                • Date: 1951
                • [retouching and new varnish?] It may be assumed, that this treatment was carried out before the painting was lent for the Berlin 'Kirchentag' in 1951. [Mieth 1993, 10]
                  • Date: 1900
                  • - losses reworked with tempera and oil glazes, that have dried to thick, tough layers extending over original paint (Treatment about 1900 by Prof. Bernatz ?, compare 'Crucifixion' documentation) [Mieth 1993, 10]
                    • Date: 1821
                    • - isolated exit holes, small losses and mechanical damage filled; retouched with oil glazes that extend slightly over the original (probably a treatment from 1821) - dense white preventative (against woodworm) oil coating on the reverse [Mieth 1993, 10, 28]