Cranach - Portrait of Martin Luther
Portrait of Martin Luther
Workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milano
02.07.2020 - 07:20
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberI_MPP_1036
Persistent Link
FR (1978) No.FR312-313E
Portrait of Martin Luther[Museo Poldi Pezzoli, revised 2013]
Workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder [Museo Poldi Pezzoli, revised 2013]
Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerMuseo Poldi Pezzoli, Milano
RepositoryMuseo Poldi Pezzoli, Milano
Dimensions of support: 38.3 x 24 cm Dimensions including frame: 59 x 70 cm [Museo Poldi Pezzoli, revised 2013]
Painting on wood [Museo Poldi Pezzoli, revised 2013]
Signature / Date:
Artist's insignia at centre left: winged serpent and dated either side '1529'
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
- at the top: 'M. L/IN SILENCIO ET SPE ERIT FORTITUDO VESTRA' 'In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength' from Isaiah (30:15) [](accessed 21.05.2013]
The great German religious reformer, father of Protestantism, is depicted half-bust against a blue background. He is wearing a black cap that lets slip locks of curly hair. The black mass of his clothes concentrates attention on his face, with its thin lips, prominent nose, and lines marking the eyes. He has a lively, almost ironical gaze, unlike his wife who appears distant and austere. [...] a layer of paint laid on the back indicates that it could be closed and transported, almost as though it were a portable altar. [](accessed 21.05.2013]
Acquired in 1894 for 500 liras by Giuseppe Bertini (first director of the Museum) from the painter Giuseppe Barbaglia.

[Museo Poldi Pezzoli, revised 2013]
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Cat. Milan 1982165-166Nos. 222, 223
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979No. 312-313
Russoli 197830
Russoli 1972256
Gregorietti 197222
Russoli 1955141-142
Russoli 195123
Wittgens 1937
Morassi 193210, 23
Cat. Milan 190251
Frizzoni 1900172
Melani 1900227
Jacobsen 1896185
Vittadini 1895216
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
The panel with the portrait of Luther signed and dated. It retains the imprint on the margin, partly repainted, of the original frame.

The portrait of Luther and his wife were replicated by Cranach and his workshop in a large number of specimens characterized by slight iconographic variations. One of the noblest versions of the portrait of Luther has been recognized in the Berlin Collection of R. von Goldschmidt-Rothschild dated 1528 which reproduces an image identical to this one but without writing.
The pictorial quality of the two portraits of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum and the insistence of the design with which are marked the facial features cause the execution to report to the master's workshop.

[](accessed 21.05.2013]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 2013
  • Technical Examination
  • Framing
  • The original frame has been lost, although on the margins of the panel it is possible to see the trace of the antique frame.

    New frame, wood.
    [](accessed 21.05.2013]
      History of Restoration:
      • Date: 1939
        • conservation treatment by: M. Pelliccioli