Cranach - Nativity
Nativity
Lucas Cranach the Elder
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
22.11.2018 - 12:00
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Painting:
CDA ID / Inventory NumberDE_SKD_GG1907A
Persistent Linkhttp://lucascranach.org/DE_SKD_GG1907A
FR (1978) No.FR101
Title:
Nativity[CDA 2011]
Attribution:
Lucas Cranach the Elder [Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 2011]
Dating:
about 1515 - 1520[Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz, 246]
Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerStaatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
RepositoryStaatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
LocationDresden
Dimensions:
Dimensions of support: 32 x 24.5 x 0.5 cm [Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 246]
Support:
Painting on Lime wood [Klein, Report 2013] [Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 246]
Signature / Date:
Artist's insignia bottom left: winged serpent with elevated wings
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
Reverse of the panel: [Gal.-Nr.]; [Exhibition label: Tokio 1974]; in black paint: '1'; in violet pen: '25.10.84/9%' [Schlegel 2003, 34][1] [1][Schlegel, Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 246]
Description:
The representation of the Nativity as seen here depicted by Cranach draws essentially on two sources. In the first instance the biblical text in the Gospel of Luke can be mentioned, according to which Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem with the pregnant Virgin for a population census. There Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable, which was announced to the shepherds by the Lord¿s angel. The shepherds went in search of the Son of God and found him in the crib of a stable where they pay homage to him before telling the world of his birth. The second source touches on the vision of St Bridget of Sweden, a 14th century mystic. In Bridget¿s description ¿ fundamental to numerous Nativity and Adoration scenes from the Late Middle Ages - a divine light radiated from the naked infant Christ¿s body at his birth that was brighter than any candle. In this small panel Cranach sets himself the appealing artistic task of visualizing radiant light in a night scene. He represents the infant Christ lying in stone trough surrounded by a throng of angels similar in age and appearance to the newborn. The angels hold their hands in an attitude of prayer from which a dense circle of light radiates. Mary kneels to the left of the crib and like the angels she also prays. Her long, brown curls fall over her shoulders. She gazes at the child and shows both humility and motherly love. A corona frames her head. The Virgin is enveloped in a dark blue coat, which she wears over a red undergarment. Joseph stands behind the crib dressed in brown. He has lowered his head, which is framed by grey curls but otherwise bald and holds a candle in his left hand. The light from the candle falls to the right. In the right hand zone of the painting the ox and ass crouch directly beside the child. Together with the Virgin and Joseph they create an inner circle, while the angels make up the outer circle surrounding the child. Both circles open out towards the viewer and invite him to see and worship the child. The shepherds are shown in the mid-ground at the right edge of the painting separated from the Holy Family by a protruding wall and as such are assigned to another level in the hierarchy of worship. It appears as if they have just arrived at the stable: they are still standing but their gestures suggest that they are about to kneel in prayer. The gestures and expressions of the two in the foreground betray their awareness of the solemnity of this moment, whereas only the head of the third shepherd is visible. He has stretched it out inquisitively to catch a glimpse of God¿s son. A wooden post at the left edge of the painting that supports the sloped roof projecting into the depth of the painting suggests the architectural setting where the event unfolds. To the left the stable is open and the scene of the annunciation is visible on a hill in the background. This scene precedes the central one; the shepherds can be clearly identified among the herd of sheep by their attire. The gloriole of angels illuminates the night sky. Two of the shepherds are already witnesses to the miraculous event, a third approaches. His red head attire identifies him as the curious shepherd ¿ here already a latecomer. [Görres, in Bonnet, Kopp-Schmitt, Görres 2010, 162]
Provenance:
- 1917 acquired from the collection of Richard von Kaufmann, Berlin
- 1945-1955 USSR

[Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 248]
Exhibitions:
Dresden 1899, 17
Zürich 1971, No. 14
New Delhi 1984/1985 No. 10
Dresden 2000/2001, No. 8
Hamburg 2003, No. 30
Chemnitz 2005, No. 8
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Bonnet, Görres 201550-5114p. 51
Maaz 201036, 37
Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt 2007142-14315p. 143
Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005246-251No. 8
Schlegel 200334
Exhib. Cat. Hamburg 2003No. 30
Cat. Dresden 1992158
Auct. Cat. Munich 1989under No. 411
Friedländer, Rosenberg 197990No. 101Fig. 101
Exhib. Cat. Zurich 1971 ANo. 14
Ruhmer 1963No. 13
Posse 194322
Posse 194222
Friedländer, Rosenberg 193290
Heyck 192784, 85
Glaser 1923102, 104, 224
Friedländer 1917No. 160
Pauli 1909130, 131
Flechsig 1900 BNo. 24
Flechsig 1900 A92, 93
Exhib. Cat. Dresden 1899No. 90
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 08.04.2013
  • Scientific analysis
  • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology
  • Support
  • Identification of wood species: lime wood
    • analysed by: Peter Klein
    • Date: 23.10.2012
    • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
    • Infrared reflectography
    • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Nativity - Infrared Images
    • Underdrawing
    • Results
      Drawing material:
      - fluid (brush)

      Technique:
      - detailed underdrawing executed with a brush, so repeated lines and cresent-shaped lines and hooks; diviations are particularly visible in the grouting on the wall in the background (possibly concealed by the underpainting), in the Virgin's face, which is now somewhat larger and has be turned slightly, and the contours of the faces of the angels around the crib. [1]
      [1][Schölzel, Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 246]
      [Böhme, Schölzel, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 2012]
      • photographed by: Alexandra Böhme
      • photographed by: Christoph Schölzel
      • Date: 2005
      • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
      • Infrared reflectography
      • Framing
      • - new frame: profiled black frame with a coloured flute and gilded bar, 20th century

        [Schölzel, Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 246]
      • Underdrawing
      • - detailed underdrawing executed with a brush, so repeated lines and cresent-shaped lines and hooks; diviations are particularly visible in the grouting on the wall in the background (possibly concealed by the underpainting), in the Virgin's face, which is now somewhat larger and has be turned slightly, and the contours of the faces of the angels around the crib.
          • Date: 2003
          • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
          • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Nativity - OtherLucas Cranach the Elder - Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Nativity - Reverse
          • Support
          • - lime wood
            - 0.5 cm thick (thinned)
            - two planks

            [Schlegel 2003, 34][1]
            [1][Schlegel, Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 246]
              • Date: 1959
              • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
              • X-radiography
              • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Nativity - X-Radiographs
                • created by: Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
                • created by: A. Heese
                Condition Reports:
                • Date: 2003
                • Support: - transferred to a plywood board, which has been beveled and painted black along all four edges Painted surface: - isolated retouching (particularly along the left edge) - old, glossy varnish [Schlegel 2003, 34][1] [1][Schlegel, Schölzel, Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 246]
                  • Date: 1955
                  • [GGAM, Abt. Restaurierung, sowjetischer Gemäldepass][1] [1][Schölzel, Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 246]
                    History of Restoration:
                    • Date: 1984
                    • [GGAM, Abt. Restaurierung, Meldung][1] [1][Schölzel, Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 246]
                      • Date: 13.02.1975
                      • [GGAM, Abt. Restaurierung, Meldung][1] [1][Schölzel, Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 246]
                        • Date: 30.03.1960
                        • [GGAM, Abt. Restaurierung, Restaurierungsprotokoll][1] [1][Schölzel, Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005, 246]