Cranach - Portrait of a Woman
Portrait of a Woman
Lucas Cranach the Elder
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.
06.12.2021 - 11:54
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberUS_NGA_1959-9-2
Persistent Link
FR (1978) No.FR146
Portrait of a Woman[] (accessed 08.02.2013)
Portrait of Anna von Mochau[Zorzin 2013, 9-15]
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Lucas Cranach the Elder [] (accessed 08.02.2013)
1522[Pendant dated]
Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.
RepositoryNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.
Dimensions of support: 58.7 x 40.5 cm (23 1/8 x 15 15/16 in.)
Dimensions of painted surface: 58 x 39.8 cm (22 13/16 x 15 11/16 in.)

[] (accessed 08.02.2013)
Painting on beech wood
[Klein, Report 1994]
[Hand, Cat. Washington 1993, 40]
Signature / Date:
Pendant signed and dated '1522'
[cda 2013]
'Set against bright green backgrounds, this unidentified young couple is dressed in clothing of understated elegance and severity. [...] The woman wears an elaborate black hat with what appears to be an enamel pin attached at the top. The colour combination of her dress is the same as her husband's, but reversed; the bodice is black and the sleeves are brown. Notes of brighter colour are provided by the red belt and band of embroidered fabric beneath it. The costumes suggest that the man and woman are either patricians or members of the wealthy middle class. [...] There is a clear physical disparity between the two figures, which has the effect of affirming the dominance of the man. [...] The woman is smaller and more slender, and her pale ivory complexion contrasts with the ruddier skin tones of her husband. By eliminating the hands and reducing the details of the costumes, the artist has focused the viewer's attention on the sitters' faces, which are sensitively delineated and thinly but subtly modeled.'

[Hand, Cat. Washington 1993, 41]

[...] The opposing turn of their heads indicates that he occupied the place of honor on the left side. It is likely that the portraits were intended to flank a window: notice how the shadows are cast in opposite directions and how the reflections of window panes can be seen in their eyes.

[] (accessed 08.02.2013)
- Dr. Friedrich Campe [1777-1846], Nuremberg, by 1844 [1]
- Bernhard von Lindenau, Altenburg; by inheritance to his niece, Mrs. von Watzdorf-Bachoff, Altenburg [2]
- (Paul Cassirer, Berlin, by 1921) [3]
- Private collection, possibly von der Heydt.[4]
- August and Serena Lederer, Vienna, possibly by 1923, but certainly before 1932 [5]
- Lederer family; sold by 1954 to (Rosenberg & Stiebel, Inc., New York)
- purchased January 1954 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York [6]
- gift 1959 to NGA

[1] The 1995 NGA systematic catalogue entry on the painting stated that it was only possibly owned by Dr. Campe. Although Joseph Heller, Das Leben und die Werke Lucas Cranach's (Bamberg, 1844), 89, lists 'Ein männliches und ein weibliches Brustbild, bezeichnet mit 1522 und der Schlange' as belonging to the art and book dealer Dr. Friedrich Campe of Nuremberg, the painting is not mentioned in other descriptions of the collection, such as Ritter C. Heideloff, Verzeichniss der Friedrich Campe'schen Sammlung von Oelgemälden und geschmeltzen Glasmalereien, (Nuremberg, 1847). However, correspondence from Dr. Dieter Gleisberg (letters of 27 July and 1 November 1999, in NGA curatorial files) does confirm Campe's ownership and provides his life dates.
[2] H.-C. v.d. Gabelentz, Director, Staatliche Lindenau Museum, Altenburg, letter of 19 July 1968 to Dr. Ilse Franke, Munich, in curatorial files. As Gabelentz notes in his letter, Bernhard von Lindenau ordered all his papers destroyed after his death, so it is not possible to determine, for example, when he acquired the painting.
[3] Karl Scheffler. "Kunstausstellungen." Kunst und Künstler 19 (1921), 298, cites the painting as being with Cassirer. Gabelentz, letter of 19 July 1968 cited above, says that Mrs. von Watzdorf-Bachoff sold the portrait to Cassirer.
[4] Not verified. Gabelentz, letter of 19 July 1968, cited in note 2, states that the portrait was in the von der Heydt collection, but it has not been possible to locate it in any catalogues associated with the name von der Heydt.
[5] Curt Glaser. Lukas Cranach. (Leipzig, 1923), 179, reproduces the portrait as being in a private collection, Vienna; this is not included in the 1921 edition. Scheffler 1921, 298, reports only that the portrait went from Cassirer into a private collection and so it is possible, although not verified, that Lederer owned it as early as 1921. [Friedländer, Rosenberg 1932, 53-54, Nos. 123-124] ([Friedländer, Rosenberg 1978, 99, Nos. 145-146]), are the first to mention Lederer as owner.
This painting was confiscated by the Nazis in 1938 with others in the Lederer collection. It was discovered in 1945 by US forces at the abbey in Kremsmünster and transferred to the salt mine at Alt Aussee. By August 1947 it was transferred to the control of the Bundesdenkmalamt, Vienna. [Receipt for objects of Austrian origin, dated 14 July 1947, item no. 841, National Archives RG 260/USACA/Box 1, copy in NGA curatorial files.] According to a letter dated 10 April 1987 from Gerald G. Stiebel to John Hand, in NGA curatorial files, this and 1959.9.2 were acquired from the Lederer family by the firm of Rosenberg & Stiebel, who sold the paintings to the Kress Foundation in 1954.
[6] Invoice of 29 January 1954 and letter of 30 January 1954 from Saemy Rosenberg to John Walker, in NGA curatorial files.

[] (accessed 008.02.2012)
Berlin 1921
Kronach 1994, No. 158
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Price 201716
Müller 2015268, Fn. 11
Zorzin 20138-155
Müller 201066
Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt 2007261-26371p. 263
Proske 200731Fig. 20
Marx 2005109
Hand 2004134-135No. 102Fig.
Löcher 1995 A15
Grimm 199424, 26-28, 31
Exhib. Cat. Kronach 1994335-338, 371158Fig. 158
Cat. Washington 199340-44Fig. p. 43
Cat. Washington 1985105Fig.
Cat. Washington 1984165No. 179Fig.
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979No. 146
Eisler 197723-24Fig. 25
CDA.Cat. Washington 1975 A165No. 185Fig. p. 164
CDA.Cat. Washington 1975 B86Fig.
Cinotti 1975No. 95Fig.
Bialostocki 1970175, Fn. 19
CDA.Cat. Washingtion 196827No. 1372Fig.
Gandolf et al. 196898, 101Fig.
Cat. Washington 196534
Cat. Washington 1963355Fig.
Broadley 196030-31Fig.
Richardson 1959275, 277Fig.
Cat. Washington 1959311Fig.
Suida, Shapley 195656, 58No. 19Fig. p. 59
Winckler 1944244Fig. 151
Mayer 1933
Friedländer, Rosenberg 193253-54124
Glaser 1923179, 238Fig. 101
Scheffler 1921298Fig. p. 270
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
'Although not often discussed, these portraits have been recognized since first published in 1921 as excellent examples of Cranach's portraiture in the 1520s. Talbot compared their sober mood with that found in the depictions of Martin Luther and his wife, first produced around 1525 but existing in nearly countless replicas [1].
The same format is used: dark figures set against a featureless monochrome background that emphasizes the silhouettes and the differences in figure size. As in the Washington portraits, Martin Luther's figure extends beyond the frame while Katharina von Bora's is contained within its boundaries. Only Koepplin, in a verbal opinion recorded by Eisler, raised the possibility that the pictures were by one of Cranach's sons or by another artist not necessarily in the studio, finding the somewhat grainy paint and unusually flat surfaces not characteristic of Cranach at this time [2]. More importantly, Koepplin noted the influence of Netherlandish portraiture, such as that of Joos van Cleve. There are some points of comparison, for instance, with van Cleve's portraits of Joris Vezeleer and Margaretha Boghe in the National Gallery (1962.9.1-2), probably painted in 1518, in which the figures are set against a green background with cast shadows [3].'

[1] Talbot, draft catalogue entry, 1966, in NGA curatorial files. For portraits of Luther and his wife see [Friedländer, Rosenberg 1978, Nos. 189, 190]. The panel depicting Luther is dated 1526, and numerous other versions of the pair are dated 1525 or 1526 and were done on the occasion of Luther's marriage.
[2] [Eisler 1977, 24]; the verbal communication took place in spring 1968.
[3] [Cat. Washington 1986, 57-62]

[Cat, Washington 1993, 41, 44]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 21.01.1994
  • Scientific analysis
  • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology
  • 8.01 Support
  • The painting is composed of two boards with grain running horizontally. Dendrochronological examination by Peter Klein provided dates of 1356-1516 and 1398-1514 for the boards.[1]

    [1] The wood was identified by Peter Klein, examination report, 10 April 1987, in NGA curatorial files, and by the National Gallery's scientific research department. A report from 21.01.1994 records the results from 1987 (see pdf)

    [] (accessed 08.02.2013)
    • analysed by: Peter Klein
    • Date: 1993
    • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
    • Infrared reflectography
    • Stereomicroscopy
    • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology
    • 8.01 Support
    • The painting is composed of two boards with grain running horizontally. Dendrochronological examination by Peter Klein provided dates of 1356-1516 and 1398-1514 for the boards.[1]

      [1] The wood was identified by Peter Klein, examination report, 10 April 1987, in NGA curatorial files, and by the National Gallery's scientific research department.
    • 8.02 Ground and Imprimatura
    • A barbe is present along all four edges, suggesting that the panel was painted in an engaged frame.
    • 8.03 Underdrawing
    • Examination with infrared reflectography did not disclose underdrawing.
    • 8.04 Paint Layers and Gilding
    • As in the companion portrait, the background is applied in a sequence of layers: light brown to light green to dark green glazes.
      [] (accessed 08.02.2013)
        Condition Reports:
        • Date: 1993
        • The panel has been thinned and an auxiliary support, estimated to be mahogany, was added prior to the addition of the cradle.[...]

          The painting is in good condition, with scattered retouching throughout, noticeably on the edges and along the join line.

          [] (accessed 08.02.2013)