Cranach - Prague Altarpiece [left wing, fragment]: Female Saint (Apollonia?)
Prague Altarpiece [left wing, fragment]: Female Saint (Apollonia?)
Lucas Cranach the Elder (and Workshop)
Private Collection
21.08.2019 - 04:54
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberPRIVATE_NONE-P160
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FR (1978) No.FR-none
Prague Altarpiece [left wing, fragment]: Female Saint (Apollonia?)[cda 2017]
Lucas Cranach the Elder (and Workshop)[Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 182, no. 88] [Exhib. Cat. Prague 2005, no. 7e]
about 1520-1525[Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 182, No. 88]
about 1520[Exhib. Cat. Prague 2005, no. 7e]
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Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerPrivate Collection
RepositoryPrivate Collection
Dimensions of support: 41.8 x 32.5 cm [Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 182, No. 88]
Painting on lime wood [Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 182, No. 88]
Signature / Date:
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
The large Marian retable five fragments of which are known to have survived was in St Vitus cathedral until 1619. A reconstruction shows that a seated figure of the Mother of God in a gloriole of clouds occupied the central position, and might have been an Assumption. However the eight virgin saints accompanying the Virgin suggest a Virgo inter virgines. The martyrs are wearing contemporary courtly attire and hold intercessory prayers in their hands each beginning with the letter or syllables of the corresponding name. [...] As the initial [on this fragment] is not complete her identity as Apollonia remains inconclusive. Her pearl necklace that usually decorates depictions of the Virgin as a symbol of her virginity differs considerably from the luxurious gold jewellery of the other women. However the exceptionally elegant dress of all the saints does suggest a courtly clientele was the intended audience for the work. [Horký, Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 182, No. 88]
- In December 1619 the retable in St Vitus Cathedral located in the chancel dedicated the Virgin fell victim under Friedrich I to Calvinist iconoclasm and the heads of the saints were cut out of the work.
- 2003 on the art market
[Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 182, No. 88]
Düsseldorf 2017, No. 88
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017182No. 88
Tacke 201583
Exhib. Cat. Prague 200558-60, 65 (English version 26-28)7ePl. p. 65
Chamonikola 2005 A7 (English version 3)
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
While the connection between the four fragments in Prague, Karlsruhe and Aschaffenburg was already identified by Max J. Friedländer and Jakob Rosenberg the fifth fragment (private collection) was only discovered in 2003 on the art market. In 2005 the separated parts were first shown together again in Prague. The original Marian retable that boasted an impressive height of about 2.2 to 2.5 meters is for stylistic and historical reasons dated to about 1520. This time frame is debatable since it has not yet been established who commissioned this ambitious work from Lucas Cranach. The client should possibly be sought among the Habsburg family as the Lady Chapel in Prague was traditionally reserved for the commemoration of rulers. At the First Congress of Vienna held in 1515 Emperor Maximilian I formed close ties with the Jagellonian dynasty, a relationship that was further consolidated by the ensuing double wedding. In 1521 his grandson Ferdinand I married Anna of Bohemia and in 1527 he was crowned king of Bohemia in Prague. In terms of content the concept for the Marian retable is exceptional and an advisor with considerable theological knowledge must have assisted Cranach. The martyrs on the central panel – the four virgines capitales Barbara, Catharine, Margaret and Dorothy – can be identified by their attributes as well as by the texts shown on manuscript sheets in gothic script. Agnes and Christine on the side wings can be identified by the associated text, while remnants of Ursula’s attribute the arrow confirm her identity. Hans Georg Thümmel who in 1994 presented the first extensive reconstruction of the altar characterized the intercessional prayers in Latin as compositions loosely based on the Marian antiphons. A complete source has been determined for Christine’s address. (Hesbert 1970, S. 71, Nr. 6278)"
[Horky, Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 182, No. 88]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 2017
  • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
  • Infrared reflectography
  • Lucas Cranach the Elder (and Workshop) - Private Collection - Prague Altarpiece [left wing, fragment]: Female Saint (Apollonia?) - Infrared Images
  • Underdrawing

    - fluid, black medium, brush

    - freehand underdrawing
    - thin lines

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

    - minor corrections were made to forms during the painting process; small changes (e. g. position of the eyes, nose and mouth)


    - Lucas Cranach the Elder
    [Sandner, Smith-Contini, Heydenreich, cda 2018]
    • photographed by: Ingo Sandner
    • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich