Cranach - Neustadt Retabel [right wing]: The Beheading of St John [recto] The Virgin Taking Leave of her Son [verso]
Neustadt Retabel [right wing]: The Beheading of St John [recto] The Virgin Taking Leave of her Son [verso]
Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop
Evangelische Stadtkirche St. Johannis zu Neustadt/Orla
23.05.2019 - 02:56
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Painting:
CDA ID / Inventory NumberDE_JKN_NONE-JKN001c
Persistent Linkhttp://lucascranach.org/DE_JKN_NONE-JKN001c
FR (1978) No.FR047A
Title:
Neustadt Retabel [right wing]: The Beheading of St John [recto] The Virgin Taking Leave of her Son [verso][cda 2013]
Attribution:
Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop[Exhib. Cat. Eisenach 1998, No. 23.7][Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, No. 47A] [Hoffmann 1954, 32-35]
Workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder [Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974, 37] [Schade 1974, 65] [Lehfeldt 1897B, 82]
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Dating:
1513[Müller 2011, 66] [Heydenreich 2007A, 413, No. 53] [Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, No. 47A] [Hintzenstern 1986, 7] [Gillsch 1881]
1520 - 1525[Lehfeldt 1897B, 86]
1512[Schade 1974, 406, No. 93] [Hoffmann 1954, 10, 122]
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Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerEvangelische Kirchgemeinde Neustadt/Orla
RepositoryEvangelische Stadtkirche St. Johannis zu Neustadt/Orla
LocationNeustadt
Dimensions:
Dimensions of painted surface: 265.3 x 96.3-96.6 cm Dimensions including frame: 282 x 112.3-112.8 x 7 cm [Heydenreich, cda 2010]
Support:
Painting on coniferous wood [Heydenreich 2007A, 68]
Signature / Date:
None
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
- on the reverse of the predella, the reverse of the shrine and the fixed wings numerous dates and monograms are either carved into the wood or written with different types of paint, among others: '1525', 1578', '1602', '1618', '1619', '1622', '1630', '1636', '1686' - on the right fixed wing at the height of the heads of the sculptures in the shrine: '1712', '1772', '1860', '1884', '1905' - the authenticity of the the inscriptions '1525' and '1578' is doubtful, as numerous inscriptions were carried out in what appears to be the same brown material over a longer period of time. [Heydenreich, cda 2012]
Description:
Recto: the henchmen wearing a yellow doublet looks at the viewer fiercely as he has just completed his work. St John's corpse lies on the ground, his blood spurts out in three jets creating a pool in the botom left corner. While stilll holding the sword the henchman places the severed head on Salome's dish. She stands to the left and is accompanied by two women. On the right five other men watch the event. Elector Friedrich III and his brother and co-regent Johann I are in the front row. Verso: part of a representation extending over the reverse of two panels: the Virgin taking leave of her Son accompanied by the sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Like the Virgin both have fallen to their knees and attempt to support her. The robe of the companion on the left continues onto the left panel. The third companion, Mary Magdalene, stands behind them and has turned towards Christ. [Görres, cda 2013]
Provenance:
- 01 August 1511: Cranach was commissioned by the City Council of Neustadt/Orla
- 14 June 1513: the panels arrive in Neustadt/Orla
- 24 June 1513 [1]: installation in the present location in the Johanniskirche, Neustadt/Orla

[Heydenreich 2007 A, 411-413]

[1] the date is recorded in the church invoice as 'am abend Johannis Baptiste (on the evening of St John the Baptist' (quoted from [Heydenreich 2007 A, 411]). [Hintzenstern 1986, 7] agrees with this interpretation of the source. Different dates are given by [Hofmann 1954, 10, 122]: '23 June 1512' and [Schade 1974, 406]: '24 June 1512'.
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Maier 2014
Maier, S. 2011
Müller 201165-74
Heydenreich 2007 A47, 65, 68, 75-81, 94-95, 98, 125, 156, 169, 187-188, 219-220, 223, 272, 277-278, 286, 289-290, 301, 331, 340, 358, 359, 3952, 81, 221, 274; primary documents on pp. 411-413
Heydenreich 2007 B44
Heydenreich 2007 C22
Ritschel 2006320-325
Melzer 200557
Exhib. Cat. Prague 200546 (English version 22)under no. 1
Heydenreich 1998 A189-190
Sandner 1998 B93
Exhib. Cat. Eisenach 1998240No. 23.7
Söffing 1997
Salley 1995
Erichsen 1994 A152-155, 158Figs. A97, A98, A99
Erichsen 1994 B181
Grimm 199429
Sparsbrod 1991
Hintzenstern, Dressler 1986
Friedländer, Rosenberg 197947A
Exhib. Cat. Basel 197421, 37, 442Fig. 243
Schade 197437, 46, 49, 62, 63, 65, 382, 405, 406
Hoffmann 1954
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1932under No. 42
Lehfeldt 1897A24-25
Lehfeldt 1897B77-87
Gillsch 1881
Kaphahn 1827
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
The repeatedly expressed suspicion, that the wings and the predella of the altar were created at different times could be refuted. The use of the same wood species and the width of the planks as well as the canvas strips used to cover knots suggest the contrary.

[see Heydenreich 2007 A, 68-69]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 2007
  • Technical Examination
  • Support
  • - coniferous wood
    - planks with a width of between 26 and 32 cm and a thickness of between 2.3 and 2.8 cm
    - the planks of the moveable wings are arranged horizontally and those of the fixed wings are arranged vertically
    - knots were covered with strips of canvas, 4-5 cm in width, with the same thread-count (c. 14 x 14 per cm²). This applies to both the wings and the predella and thus precludes differing dates of creation.

    [Heydenreich 2007 A, 65, 68-69]
  • Ground and Imprimatura
  • - white chalk ground
    - there are incised lines along the edge of the frame, that were executed while the ground was still wet

    [Heydenreich 2007A, 94, 134, 154]
  • Framing
  • - the frame is to a large extent original

    [Heydenreich 2007A, 76, 94]
  • Paint Layers and Gilding
  • - the painting on the reverse of the panel appears to have been executed in a water-based medium

    [Heydenreich 2007A, 220]
      • Date: 1995
      • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
      • Infrared reflectography
      • Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop - Evangelische Stadtkirche St. Johannis zu Neustadt/Orla - Neustadt Retabel [right wing]: The Beheading of St John [recto] The Virgin Taking Leave of her Son [verso] - Infrared Images
      • Underdrawing
      • DESCRIPTION

        Tools/Materials:
        - fluid, black medium and brush

        Type/Ductus:
        - freehand underdrawing
        - thin to slightly broader lines

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

        Deviations:
        - minor alterations made during the painting process to clearly define form

        INTERPRETATION

        Attribution:
        - Lucas Cranach the Elder?

        [Smith, Sandner, Heydenreich, cda 2013]
        • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
        • Date: 1995
        • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
        • X-radiography
        • Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop - Evangelische Stadtkirche St. Johannis zu Neustadt/Orla - Neustadt Retabel [right wing]: The Beheading of St John [recto] The Virgin Taking Leave of her Son [verso] - X-RadiographsLucas Cranach the Elder and workshop - Evangelische Stadtkirche St. Johannis zu Neustadt/Orla - Neustadt Retabel [right wing]: The Beheading of St John [recto] The Virgin Taking Leave of her Son [verso] - X-Radiographs
          • created by: Gunnar Heydenreich
          History of Restoration:
          • Date: 1951
          • - Hoffmann 1954, 13 presumes that the altar dismantled during the Thirty Years War, but had already been reinstalled in the 17th century. In 1716 the altar is recorded in the files. - 1944: put into storage to protect it from air raids - 1948-1951: varnish removal and restoration in the Schlossmuseum Weimar [Hintzenstern 1986, 10]