Cranach - Law and Grace
Law and Grace
Lucas Cranach the Elder
Národní galerie v Praze (National Gallery in Prague)
23.01.2021 - 02:10
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberCZ_NGP_O10732
Persistent Link
FR (1978) No.FR-none
Law and Grace[Exhib. Cat. Brüssel 2011, 229] [Görres 2007, 21]
Law and Gospel[Reinitzer 2006] [Weimer 1999]
Damnation and Salvation[Exhib. Cat. Gotha 1994, 21]
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Lucas Cranach the Elder [Exhib. Cat. Gotha 2015, No. 41] [Exhib. Cat. Brüssel 2011, 229] [Fleck 2010, 345-346] [Cat. Prague 2007, 28] [Görres 2007, 21] Exhib. Cat. Prague 2005, no. 11] [Reinitzer 2006, 42]
1529[Exhib. Cat. Prague 2016, 9] [Exhib. Cat. Brüssel 2011, 229] [Fleck 2010, 345-346] [Görres 2007, 21] [Exhib. Cat. Prague 2005, no. 11]
1525[Reinitzer 2006, 42]
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Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerNárodní galerie v Praze (National Gallery in Prague)
RepositoryNárodní galerie v Praze (National Gallery in Prague)
Dimensions of support: 72 x 88.5 cm (trimmed along the all edges execpt the top one) [Cat. Prague 2007, 28]
Painting on lime wood [Exhib. Cat. Brüssel 2011, 229]
Signature / Date:
Artist's insignia on the tree trunk: winged serpent with elevated wings, facing left and dated '[15]29' [cda 2011]
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
Verso: Paper label with the number: 'E.C 1265' [Cat. Prague 2007, 28]
The composition of the painting is divided into two sections, but in a less rigid and schematic manner than is the case in other versions of the same subject. The nude figure is seated on a tree trunk centrally in the foreground. His head is inclined to the left and his arms are folded. A prophet from the Old Testament is on the side of Law. He bends down to the nude figure and appears to speak with him and points with his left hand to the crucifixion on the side of Mercy. As such he fulfills the same function as St John the Baptist. By making this alteration Luther's idea of human existence, which occurs in a state between Law and the Gospel is emphasized more than in other versions, as is the fact that Law leads man to Christ, which is a pre-requisite for salvation.[1] The Fall of Man and the Brazen Serpent appear on the left side. Instead of being pursued by Death and the Devil, the man lies in an open grave on the left side wearing a shroud and thus clearly juxtaposes Death on the left with the resurrection of Christ on the right side. The resurrected Christ stands in front of the burial cave, under his feet lie the vanquished Devil with Death. The sacrificial Lamb stands above the cave with the crucifix. Behind is a rocky outcrop and the Virgin stands on the summit encircle by heads of angels in a cloud with her hands clasped, and as such is characterized as just. The Christ child floats down to her from a gloriole with a T-shaped cross and in anticipation of the conception. The Virgin thus also represents a role model for the Faithful with respect to the humble and passive acceptance of God's will. Like the Old Testament equivalent on the side of Law, that is to say like Moses, who kneels to receive the tablets of the commandments from God's hands. [1] see Harbison 1976, 101 [Görres 2006, 18-19, revised 2012]
- at the end of the 18th century the painting may have been in the collection of the Duke of Würben
[Exhib. Cat. Gotha/Kassel 2015, 168]
- from 1814 to 1922 lent by Duke Johann Nostitz-Rieneck, Prague and his heirs to the "Bildergalerie der patriotischen Kunstfreunde in Prag"
- 1922 returned to Duke Johann Nostitz-Rieneck
- acquired in 1950
[Exhib. Cat. Brüssel 2011, 229]
Gotha/Kassel 2015, No. 41
Düsseldorf 2017, No. 110
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Görres 2017 B48110
Price 201720, 26, 27 fn. 14
Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017202No. 110
Exhib. Cat. Prague 201620, 58-67, 162, 166, 1673Figs. pp. 20, 58-59, 62, 63
Spira 201557, Fn. 41
Poulsen 2015 A68
Görres 2015 B41pl. 23
Fleck 2010
Exhib. Cat. Brussels 2010229146pp. 229, 254-255
Cat. Prague 200728-298
Görres 200721
Reinitzer 200641-46, 379-380
Görres 200615-19
Exhib. Cat. Basel 200695, note 82
Exhib. Cat. Prague 200574-76, 78 (English version 32, 33)11Fig. p. 74, Pl. p. 75, Fig. p. 78 (detail)
Kotkova 2005 B42 (English version 19)
Chamonikola 2005 B28 (English version 12)
Weniger 2004116-124
Schulze 200413, 21-22
Koepplin 2003 C148, 150, 151Fig. 32
Exhib. Cat. Hamburg 2003150
Ehrstine 2002290
Krueger 2000247-255
Kolind Poulsen 200061
Weimer 1999
Noble 199946-103
Dillenberger 199996-101
Ehrstine 1998503-537
Cat. Nuremberg 1997138-139
Emmendörffer 1997133-136
Krueger 1994310, note 5
Exhib. Cat. Eisenach 199434-40, 42-59
Badstübner 1994
Exhib. Cat. Gotha 199421
Amon 1994
Schade, Schuttwolf 199421
Hrubý, Royt 1992127-128
Bach-Nielsen 1990146-184
Urbach 198935
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 1989134C68
Cat. Prague 1988126, 128279
Exhib. Cat. Stockholm 198825, 56
Ohly 1985
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 1983357-360
Exhib. Cat. Nuremberg 1983356
Exhib. Cat. Hamburg 1983 A210-216
Christensen 1979124-129
Harbison 1976
Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974506-507
Ehresmann 1966/1967
Cat. Prague 1962XVII
Kummer 195854-64
Thulin 1955126-154
Grohne 1936
Cat. Prague 191236113
Meier 1909
Förster 1909
Cat. Prague 188944159
Cat. Prague 18561728
Schuchardt 1851 C109
Cat. Prague 18442629
Cat. Prague 183513758/1265
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
An interpretation of the two figures on the tree trunk as '25' by Reinitzer 2006, 42 and on the basis of this his dating of the painting to '1525' were already questioned by Fleck in 2010. In fact there are no grounds to approve any interpretation other than '29'.
[Görres, CDA 2012]
An original inscription composed of six text columns was uncovered during a previous restoration treatment, but it was then overpainted before it was finally removed.
[Exhib. Cat. Gotha/Kassel 2015, 168]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 10. 2010
  • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
  • Infrared reflectography
  • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Národní galerie v Praze (National Gallery in Prague) - Law and Grace - Infrared Images
  • Underdrawing

    - fluid, black medium and brush or/and quill

    - freehand underdrawing
    - thin lines

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

    - minor alterations made during the painting process to clearly define form


    - Lucas Cranach the Elder?

    [Smith, Sandner, Heydenreich, cda 2014]
    • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
    • photographed by: Ingo Sandner
    History of Restoration:
    • Date: 1971 - 1972
    • Record no. 596, 21.3.1971, the National Gallery in Prague restoration department archive [Exhib. Cat. Prague 2016, 65, No. 3]
    • conservation treatment by: Mojmír Hamsík