Cranach - The Washing of the Feet
The Washing of the Feet
Lucas Cranach the Elder
Grunewald hunting lodge
24.04.2019 - 18:07
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberDE_smbGG_579
Persistent Link
FR (1978) No.FR374A
The Washing of the Feet[CDA 2010]
Lucas Cranach the Elder [Exhib. Cat. Berlin 2009, 213-214, No. IV.14] [Cat. Berlin 1883, 98f.] [Schuchardt 1851 A, Bd. II, No. 16] [Waagen, Cat. Berlin 1830, 143, No. 59]
Lucas Cranach the Younger [Cat. Berlin 1891, No. 374A.]
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153[7] [dated] '153[7] the last number can be interpreted as a 7' [Waagen, Cat. Berlin 1830, 143, No. 59.]
Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerStaatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie
RepositoryGrunewald hunting lodge
Dimensions of support: 149.9 x 113.5 cm [Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, revised 2010]
Painting on lime wood [Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz Berlin, revised 2010]
Signature / Date:
Artist's insignia bottom right: winged serpent (with elevated wings) and dated '153[?]'
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
On the painted surface: - bottom left: '626' (possibly an old inventory number) Reverse of the panel: - top left, label: 'Staatliche Museen Berlin - Gemäldegalerie Inv.Nr. I. 641 Kat.Nr. 579 L. Cranach d. J.' Top right, label: 'Verwaltung der Schlösser u. Gärten Berlin Kat.Nr. 11425 Lucas Cranach Fußwaschung Christi' Right centre, seal: 'Koenigliche Museen Berlin' Below, black stamp: 'I.641' Bottom left and right, labels: 'Gen. Kat. No. 11425' Right below, label: 'KNr. 579 Inv. I/649' [Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz Berlin, revised 2010]
This depiction of the washing of feet, which took place during the Last Supper, closely follows the text in the bible (John 13, 1-20). Christ kneels in front of Peter in the foreground and washes his feet. The other apostles are gathered around them, their gestures express both worry and devout prayer. The dining table is visible at the right edge of the panel and in the background Judas leaves the scene through a door. [see Elke A. Werner, Exhib. Cat. Berlin 2009, 213-214, No. IV.14]
- probably taken from the cathedral (Domkirche) in the 17th century and placed in the Erasmus chapel (Erasmuskapelle) of the Berlin palace; eight Passion paintings are listed in the Berlin palace inventory from 1700
[Exhib. Cat. Berlin 2009, 213, Nos. IV.14-22]

- after its return from Wiesbaden (probably 1932) the painting was lent to the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten (1960) in Charlottenburg palace (Schloss Charlottenburg), depot
- 1973 returned to Dahlem for an exhibition
- Since 5 June 1974 again on loan to Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten, Gunewald hunting lodge (Jagdschloss Grunewald)
(note in the file)
[Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz Berlin, revised 2011]
Berlin 2009, 213, 214, Fig. IV.14
Berlin 1980, 102
Berlin 1973, No. 6a
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 2009 A213-214No. IV.14Fig. IV.14
Tacke 2007 C81, 82, 84
Cat. Berlin 199635Fig. 79
Erichsen 1994 A157, 158
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 1980 A102
Börsch-Supan 198018No. 3
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979145No. 374A
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 1973No. 6a
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1932294-299
Friedländer 190564
Borrmann 1893107, 163
Cat. Berlin 188398-99
Schuchardt 1851 C15-168
Cat. Berlin 1830143No. II.59
Puhlmann 179035No. 32
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
'The last figure of the date was probably reconstructed to create a 7.'
[Waagen 1830, 143, No. 59.]
'Since 1891 the painting has been attributed to Lucas Cranach the Younger due to certain stylistic characteristics and the appearance of the insignia (the feathers of the wings are curved upwards and the middle loop of the snake is higher).'
[Gemäldegalerie, revised 2010]
[Cat. Berlin 1891, No. 374A.]
'The painting is one of nine Passion panels that were originally parts of an unknown number of winged altarpieces. Commissioned by Joachim II Lucas Cranach the Elder and his workshop created them for the collegial church in Berlin (Berliner Stiftskirche) between 1537 and 1538. This is one of the central panels, which was probably flanked by full-length depictions of saints on the wings and complemented by scenes from the old testament on the predella. […] The Berlin Passion cycle was based on the 16 Passion altarpieces, which were commissioned by Cardinal Albrecht from Lucas Cranach the Elder and his workshop for the collegial church in Halle (Hallenser Stiftskirche) (about 1520-1525) and it was the second large painted Passion series created in the Cranach workshop. Not only are numerous central panels now missing from the Berlin Passion altarpieces, like for example ‚The Arrest of Christ‘ or ‚The Crucifixion‘, but in addition the whereabouts of all the wing panels and a large number of the predella panels is unknown. They were probably lost in 1613 when Elector Johann Sigismund converted to Calvinism. […]'
[Elke A. Werner, Exhib. Cat. Berlin 2009, 213, No. IV.14-22]
'It is uncertain whether the Berlin Passion Cycle began with this scene or if other scenes like the entry into Jerusalem or the Last Supper preceded it.'
[Elke A. Werner, Exhib. Cat. Berlin 2009, 213-214, No. IV.14]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 2010
  • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
  • Infrared reflectography
  • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Grunewald hunting lodge - The Washing of the Feet - Infrared Images
  • Underdrawing

    - fluid, black medium and brush

    - detailed and freehand underdrawing
    - thin lines; predominantly short lines in combination with some longer ones

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

    - minor alterations made during the painting process to clearly define form (e.g. Christ’s left hand)


    - Lucas Cranach the Elder

    [Smith, Sandner, Heydenreich, cda 2012]
    • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
    • photographed by: Ingo Sandner
    • Date: 2010
    • Technical Examination
    • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Grunewald hunting lodge - The Washing of the Feet - Reverse
    • Support
    • - the original surface on the reverse of the panel has been preserved
      - a rebate (1 cm in width) is present on all four sides; a thin white ground and a black glaze were applied to the edges, holding the centre in reserve
    • Framing
    • - 2009 new frame for the Cranach exhibition
      • written by: Christine Unsinn