Cranach - Lucretia
Lucas Cranach the Elder
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie
25.02.2020 - 21:32
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberDE_smbGG_1832
Persistent Link
FR (1978) No.FR239
Lucretia[CDA 2010]
Lucretia[Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, 118, No. 239]
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Lucas Cranach the Elder [Gemäldegalerie, revised 2010] [; 17.05.2010] [Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, 118, No. 239] [Posse 1942, 61, No. 84]
Hans Cranach [Flechsig 1900 A, 274, No. 60]
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Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerStaatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie
RepositoryStaatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie
Dimensions of support: 37.3 x 23.9 x 0.5 cm Dimensions of painted surface: 36 x 22.5 cm Dimensions including frame: 46.3 x 33.3 cm [Gemäldegalerie, revised 2010]
Painting on wood [Gemäldegalerie, revised 2010] beech wood [Klein, Report 1997] [; 17.05.2010] [Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, 118, No. 239] [Posse 1942, 61, No. 84]
Signature / Date:
Artist's insignia bottom left: winged serpent with elevated wings and dated '1533'
Lucretia stands on stony ground against a black background. She wears a golden bonnet and necklace and is otherwise unclothed except for a veil around her hips, which she holds with her left hand. She points a dagger at her breast with her right hand. [Gemäldegalerie Berlin, Unsinn 2010]
- 1917 bequest from the heirs of the painter Ludwig Knaus
[Gemäldegalerie, revised 2010]

- Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin
[Friedländer, Rosenberg 1932, 66, No. 197]

Location since 1945 until its return to Berlin:
Merkers/Kaiserode mine

[Gemäldegalerie, revised 2010]
Berlin 1898, 34
Dresden 1899, No. 60
Berlin 1937, 36, No. 96
Berlin 1973, No. 8
Chemnitz 2005/6, 79, Plate 30
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Heydenreich 2015122Fig. 4e
Heydenreich 2007 A399
Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt 2007354p. 354
Cat. Frankfurt 2005Fig. 153
Widmaier-Picasso 200579Pl. 30
Bierende 2002
Follak 2002
Scribner 199893ff.
Cat. Berlin 199634, 35Fig. 74
Klein 1994 A196, 198Tabs. 4, 5
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979118No. 239Fig. 239
Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974660
Schade 1974Plate 148
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 1973No. 8
Posse 194331, 62No. 84
Posse 194231, 62No. 84
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 193736No. 96
Friedländer, Rosenberg 193266197
Flechsig 1900 A254No. 60
Exhib. Cat. Dresden 1899No. 60
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
The painting depicts Lucretia as a standing, full-length nude figure.
Lucretia’s body is shown frontally and her left leg is slightly bent. Her face is tilted to the left, whereas she gazes into the far distance. She points a long dagger at herself with her right hand. The tip is directed upwards touching her below her right breast. In her left hand Lucretia holds a transparent veil, which falls over her lower right arm and thus covers her vulva. However the veil is so transparent that it does not conceal her vulva. In addition to the veil she wears a necklace and her hair is pinned up under a bonnet.
The background is dark and neutral, but Lucretia does stand on stony ground.

According to the legend Lucretia lived in the 6th century BC and was the beautiful and virtuous wife of the roman Collatinus. The roman King's son - Sextus Tarquinius fell in love with her. During a stay in her house Sextus threatened to kill her and shame her honour if she did not surrender to him. After the rape Lucretia had her father and husband vow vengeance and then she stabbed herself. The event led to an uprising in which the royal family was overthrown and the Roman Empire became a Republic.
Depictions of Lucretia who was seen as the epitomy of female virtue, chastity, fidelity and honour enjoyed great popularity, particularly in the 16th century.

[Literature: Bierende 2002, Follak 2002, Livius 1909]
[Herrschaft, cda 2010]
The depiction of Lucretia in Vienna (FR238), which is dated '1532' is the same format and type. It may have served as a prototype for this painting. In addition to these two small format full-length depictions of Lucretia Cranach also painted a life-size nude depiction of Lucretia (FR358, FR240).

[Herrschaft, cda 2010]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 01.02.2010
  • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
  • Infrared reflectography
  • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie - Lucretia - Infrared Images
  • Underdrawing

    - the drawing material could not be clearly identified

    - possibly a freehand underdrawing; barely visible
    - thin lines

    - binding for the final painted version; occasional lines describe inner forms; no representation of volume

    - none apparent


    - not possible

    [Smith, Sandner, Heydenreich, cda 2012]
    • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
    • photographed by: Ingo Sandner
    • Date: 2010
    • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
    • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology
    • Support
    • - beech wood
      - the panel consists of one plank
      - the annual rings counted are dated between1531-1400

      According to the most recent examination carried out by Dr. Peter Klein the wood is from the same tree as that of the following panels:

      - Melanchthon, private collection
      - Philipp Melanchthon, Berlin 619; DE_smbGG_619_FR314-315F
      - Portrait of Martin Luther, Berlin 617; DE_smbGG_617_FR314-315F
      - Frederick the Wise, New York 46.179.1
      - The Ill-matched Lovers, Berlin 1606; DE_smbGG_1606_FR-none
      - Portrait of a man, KAC, 31.112(Brett I-III); US_NAMAKC_31-112_FR415
      - Christ crowned with Thorns, Bremen Roselius-Haus, B 56 (Brett I + II); DE_KBSB_B56_FR381F
      - The Disciples Taking Leave of Christ, Stockholm NM 254 (Brett II + III)
      - Eve, Chicago 1935.295 (Brett I + II)
      - The three Electors of Saxony, Hamburger Kunsthalle 60
      (Linker Flügel + rechter Flügel); DE_HKH_HK-606a_FR338; DE_HKH_HK-606c_FR338

      - Portrait of Ernst, Duke of Saxony, Berlin, II 55 (Brett I+II); DE_smbGG_55-2 _FR-none
      - Martin Luther, DON, 727
    • Ground and Imprimatura
    • - there is no barbe along the edge of the painted surface. The ground and paint extend to the edge of the panel.
      [Handwritten annotation in the documentation file]
      • written by: Christine Unsinn
      • Date: 17.02.1997
      • Scientific analysis
      • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology
      • Support
      • Identification of wood species: beech wood
        Youngest annual ring: 1531
        • analysed by: Peter Klein
        • Date: 01.07.1987
        • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
        • Infrared photography
        • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie - Lucretia - Infrared Images
          • photographed by: Fotowerkstatt, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin
          • Date: 11.06.1979
          • Scientific analysis
          • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology
          • Support
            • written by: Peter Klein
            • Date:
            • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
            • X-radiography
            • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie - Lucretia - X-RadiographsLucas Cranach the Elder - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie - Lucretia - X-Radiographs
              • created by: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie