Cranach - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel]
The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel]
Lucas Cranach the Elder
Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M.
23.11.2017 - 00:56
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Painting:
CDA ID / Inventory NumberDE_SMF_1398A
Persistent Linkhttp://lucascranach.org/DE_SMF_1398A
FR (1978) No.FR018
Title:
The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel][Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, No. 18]
The so-called 'Torgauer Altar' [central panel][CDA 2011]
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Attribution:
Lucas Cranach the Elder [Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt 2008, 154, No. 19] [Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225] [Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, 70-71, No. 18]
Dating:
1509 [dated]
Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerStädel Museum Frankfurt a.M.
RepositoryStädel Museum Frankfurt a.M.
LocationFrankfurt am Main
Dimensions:
Dimensions of support: 121.1 x 100.4 x 0.5 cm [Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225] Dimensions of painted surface: 120.6 x 99.3 cm [Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225]
Support:
Painting on lime wood [Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt 2008, 154, No. 19] [Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225] [Klein, Report 1993]
Signature / Date:
Artist's insignia on the plaque attached to the right column: 'LVCAS CHRONVS FACIEBAT ANNO 1509' [Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt 2008, No. 19] [Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225] [Friedländer, Rosenberg, 70-71, No. 18]
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
Reverse of the panel: - top: in blue: '7359' - top third: in pencil: 'Inv.N. 1398' [Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225]
Description:
The central panel depicts Joseph, the Virgin, Anna and the Christ Child as well as Anna's three husbands in the background: Joachim, Cleophas (with the physiognomy of Emperor Maximilian I) and Salomas (with the physiognomy of Sixtus Oelhafens). The Holy Kinship is shown in a large room with high ceilings, bluish grey plastered walls and a tiled floor in three colours. In the foreground a profiled stone bench stretches across the entire width of the room. On the right and left edges it supports two marble columns. At the top of the panel a larger cloth with black and red patterned gold brocade has been hung between the columns. In the middle distance a gallery juts into the centre of the room. Its frieze is decorated with six putti and the coats-of-arms of six electors are interspersed between them. There is a window on the left of the back wall. The Virgin sits in the foreground on a stone bench wearing a blue robe and Anna sits next to her in a red dress. Anna holds the Christ Child on her right knee. The Child turns towards the Virgin, who offers him an apple with her right hand and holds a book in her left hand. Behind the Virgin Joseph is seated asleep on the floor. Three other figures stand in the gallery. The man standing on the left (probably Joachim) in timeless clothing looks towards the group of women. The other two wear contemporary dress and converse with each other. Two boys stand on the left in the foreground. The elder of the two (Simon) wears a green and red striped robe and in his right hand he holds a walking stick over his shoulder from which a basket filled with apples and grapes hangs. He turns from the frontal position slightly to the left, towards his younger brother (Judas), who reaches for the basket with his right hand. He pulls a sledge made from twigs and filled with apples with his left hand. A brown dachshund cowers on the ground to the right. [see Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225]
Provenance:
- 21. - 28.06.1906 auction of the Molinier Collection at Brame in Paris (No. 136), acquired by the Städel with financial assistance from the City of Frankfurt, private patrons and friends, the Städelschen Museums-Vereins and the Carl Schaub'schen Stiftung
[Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225]
Exhibitions:
Frankfurt a. M. 2008, No. 19
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Bonnet, Görres 201530-338p. 30, 31
Borchert 201028, 2921
Brinkmann 200719
Schade 200791, 92, 941
Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt 2007154-15819pp. 154, 156-157
Heydenreich 2007 B39-4016, 25
Cat. Frankfurt 2005204-225
Grimm 199873, 77
Heydenreich 1998 A187Fig. 21.4b
Wittmann 1998169
Sandner 1998 B88, 90, 91Figs. 16.7, 16.7a-c
Exhib. Cat. Eisenach 199814716.7Figs. 16.7a-c
Cat. Kassel 199756, 62
Ritschel 19967-26
Ritschel 199538-62
Thümmel 1994170
Schade 1994 B13
Hinz 199332-34
Lübbeke 1991199-200
Löcher 1985 B35
Andersson 198143-79
Friedländer, Rosenberg 197970, 71No. 18Fig. 18
Wirth 197793
Koepplin 1974 A25-34
Exhib. Cat. Basel 197420, 76, 77, 683, 753Fig. 24
Ullmann 19747
Schade 197428-30, 40, 55-56, 66
Hütt 1973346
Hintzenstern 197253-55
Strieder 19668
Mitgau 1963551
Ruhmer 19636, 13, 83
Lüdecke 1953 B40
Posse 194315-16, 53-54
Posse 194215-16, 53-54
Lilienfein 194230-31
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1932018
Mielsch 192320-23
Heyck 190817, 59-60, 64
Swarzenski 190749-65
Rieffel 1906269-273
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
The altar was evidently first mentioned in the literature after the auction in Paris. The authorship and date were already unquestioned due to the conspicuous signature. However lack of knowledge about the legend of the Trinubium lead to an incorrect identification of the depicted figures.
[Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225]
Swarzenski considers the retable to have been commissioned by Friedrich the Wise and Johann the Steadfast, because on the wings both men are depicted in official attire and the electoral saxon coats-of-arms decorate the balustrade of the gallery. Furthermore he identifies the men on the gallery as Emperor Maximilian (centre), the Imperial Councillor (kaiserlicher Rat) Sixtus Oelhafen (right) and the artist (left). According to Swarzenski further portaits are visible in the face of the boy wearing a skirt on the left edge of the central panel, who he believes to be Prince Johann Friedrich and in the face of St Anna on the verso of the right wing, which he identifies as the boy’s mother Sophia of Mecklenburg.
Swarzenki’s presumption about the original function of the altar is based on these possible identifications.
In 1505 Friedrich the Wise and Johann the Steadfast commissioned an Altar for the Marienkirche in Torgau in memory of Sophia of Mecklenburg, who died while giving birth to her son. The church was dedicated to St Anna and the Fourteen Helpers. A panel painting by Lucas Cranach depicting the ‘Fourteen Helpers’ is preserved here and is associated with this altar. Despite stylistic differences Swarzenski identified it as the predella of the present altar, which he considers to be the lost Anna Altar.
Since then this interpretation, particularly the association with the ‚Fourteen Helpers‘, has due to the existing inconsistencies been repeatedly questioned as has the identification of Johann Friedrich and Sophia of Mecklenburg. However the identification of both donors and Emperor Maximilian has remained undisputed. Their roles within the sacred context appear appropriate: Friedrich the Wise and his brother pose as son-in-laws of the emperor and as such loyal follower of Maximilian.
[Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225]
Since this proposal by Swarzenski the term „Torgauer Altar“ has been adopted in the literature. However an optical reconstruction of the Torgau ‚Fourteen Helpers‘ with the Frankfurt triptych was never attempted. This has confirmed the opinion of Schade, Koepplin and Ritschel, that such an assembly is impossible. Neither the absolute format, nor the style nor the scale of the figures is compatible.
[Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225]
Cranach’s signature on this altar is unique in his oeuvre and an extensive interpretation of it was written by Eduard Heyck. [see Heyck 1908, 16-18]
[Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 01.07.2011
  • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
  • Infrared reflectography
  • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - Infrared Images
  • Underdrawing
  • DESCRIPTION

    Tools/Materials:
    - fluid, black medium and brush

    Type/Ductus:
    - freehand underdrawing
    - thin lines; occasional hatching-strokes

    Function:
    - relatively binding for the final painted version; lines delineate contours and describe the essential details and the facial features; some representation of volume (hatching-strokes)

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

    INTERPRETATION

    Attribution:
    - Lucas Cranach the Elder

    [Smith, Sandner, Heydenreich, cda 2012]
    • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
    • photographed by: Ingo Sandner
    • Date: 2005
    • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
    • Infrared reflectography
    • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - Detail ImagesLucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - Detail ImagesLucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - Detail Images
    • Support
    • - six planks, aligned horizontally
      - height from top to bottom: plank I – left 22.0 cm, right 28.0 cm; plank II – left 28.3 cm, right 26.0 cm; plank III – left and right 25.5 cm; plank IV – left 12.7 cm, right 14.0 cm; plank V – left 13.0 cm, right 12.8 cm; plank VI – left 19.0 cm, right 14.5 cm
    • Underdrawing
    • - the underdrawing is visible with the naked eye in areas of the flesh paint that have been overcleaned, it is clearly visible in the infrared reflectograph under the paint layers containing yellow and mid-blue pigments, and is less apparent under the red layers
      - a few freehand brushstrokes describe the forms; light and shadow are not considered, a curved surface is occasionally marked with hatching-strokes
      - the contours, main line of the inner forms and the folds of numerous figures appear to have been indicated with broad brushstrokes
    • Paint Layers and Gilding
    • - there is a black painted line c. 0.5-1.0 cm along the left, right and bottom edges (no longer preserved along the top)
      - the haloes were executed employing gold leaf
    • Framing
    • Modern
      [Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225]
        • Date: 2000
        • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
        • Micro-sampling / cross-sections
        • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - Analysis
        • CDA ID/Inventory Number: DE_SMF_1398A
          Cross-section number: EP 102
          Paint description: yellow robe
          Sample location: central panel, Joachim’s yellow robe
          Sample number: 123
          Examination method: microscopy

          Observations:
          2. transparent layers > 1-2 varnish layers
          1. yellow layer: yellow pigmented layer with a single large red pigment particle > yellow robe
          0. white layer, just remnants > ground
          • examined by: Gunnar Heydenreich
          • Date: 2000
          • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
          • Micro-sampling / cross-sections
          • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - AnalysisLucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - AnalysisLucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - AnalysisLucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - AnalysisLucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - Analysis
          • CDA ID/Inventory Number: DE_SMF_1398A
            Cross-section number: EP 101
            Paint description: brown curtain with red
            Sample location: central panel, top edge, curtain
            Sample number: 122
            Examination methods: microscopy, SEM-EDX

            Observations:
            1. reddish brown layer with vermilion, white and glassy splintery brown pigments (brown iron oxide), as well as glassy brown amorphous slightly lighter inclusions (organic, no Fe, no Si) EDX: matrix Fe, Pb, Hg) lead white, vermilion, brown iron oxide, that is to say brown iron oxide and a brown organic material with a fluorescence (brown resin?, it differs from the transparent brown with no fluorescence) and some soot black >paint from the curtain
            0-1. white layer, crystalline with glassy and light brown inclusions, appears to be a descrete layer, whiter than the layer beneath, possibly a second application, in UV light the glassy inclusions appear slightly lighter> ground
            0. white layer, crystalline > ground

            Comments: the ground probably consists of two layers: the lower layer appears greyish, while the upper layer is whiter and exhibits slightly brownish inclusions. In UV-light both layers appear very similar. A pigmented imprimatura is not present. Layer 1. is an admixture of different pigments (lead white, vermilion, iron oxide brown and an organic brown material, that differs both in composition and UV-fluorescence from the iron oxide brown.)
            • examined by: Gunnar Heydenreich
            • Date: 2000
            • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
            • Micro-sampling / cross-sections
            • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - AnalysisLucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - AnalysisLucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - AnalysisLucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - Analysis
            • CDA ID/Inventory Number: DE_SMF_1398A
              Cross-section number: EP 103
              Paint description: red robe, Anna
              Sample location: central panel, Anna, red robe
              Sample number: 124
              Examination method: microscopy

              Observations:
              1. red applied in two layers with different red and single white pigments, in UV-light the particles exhibit different fluorescence: there are different pigments in the lower layer a) red crystalline particles, dark red in UV-light, b) less pale glassy/amorphous particles, pale yellow in UV; in the upper layer a) a few red crystalline particles, dark red in UV, b) semi-transparent dark red inclusions predominate, fluorescing orange in UV-light, probably a red lake ?, c) some amorphous white glassy particles
              0. the ground is missing

              Comments: The robe was underpainted with an intense vermilion red paint and then completed with the application of paint containing a high quantity of red lake. Only a scant amount of white (lead white?) is present.
              • examined by: Gunnar Heydenreich
              • Date: 1994
              • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
              • Other imaging techniques
              • False-colour-infrared-image
                • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
                • Date: 1994
                • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
                • UV-light photography
                • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - UV ImagesLucas Cranach the Elder - Städel Museum Frankfurt a.M. - The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship [central panel] - UV Images
                  • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
                  • Date: 20.01.1993
                  • Scientific analysis
                  • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology
                  • Support
                  • Identification of wood species: lime wood
                    • analysed by: Peter Klein
                    Condition Reports:
                    • Date: 2005
                    • - the central panel has been thinned and laminated onto a beech wood panel, which was cradled - the top edge has been trimmed slightly - numerous point retouches cover the entire surface of the painting, particularly on the lower two thirds of the panel - the flesh paint has been overcleaned in numerous figures, in St Anna's face the paint layers are partially abraded, revealing the ground layer - extensive damage within a horizontal band 10-19 cm in height across the entire width of the panel. This damage was obviously caused by the dimensional change of the support. It runs from the pedestal of the left column, through the Virgin's robe on the balustrade, at knee height through the book and the Virgin's left hand, it continues below Christ's shoulder, between the upper arm and knee of the figure of Anna to the pedestal of the right column; in this area the paint layer consists essentially of retouching - a less extensively retouched, but very overcleaned strip of c. 8 cm in height extends over the entire width of the painting at the height of the frieze on the gallery, the haloes have almost completely disappeared and have been reconstructed with shell-gold and brown shadow [Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 204-225]