Cranach - The Lamentation of Christ
The Lamentation of Christ
Lucas Cranach the Elder
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
06.12.2021 - 12:38
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberDE_BStGS_1416
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FR (1978) No.FR005
The Lamentation of Christ[CDA 2010]
The Schleißheim Crucifixion[CDA 2010]
The Crucifixion of Christ[Exhib. Cat. Munich 2011, 137, No. 1416]
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Lucas Cranach the Elder [Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, revised 2010][Burmester 1998, 167][Rieffel 1895, 425]
Wolf Huber [Schmidt 1892]
Matthias Grünewald [Bayersdorfer 1855]
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Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerBayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen
RepositoryAlte Pinakothek, Munich
Dimensions of support: 137.8-138 x 98.3-99.3 x 0.8-1.5 cm
(The panel has been trimmed slightly along the left edge; the original dimensions of the painted surface have been retained)
Dimensions of painted surface: 136-135.6 x 97 x 97.3 cm

[Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, revised 2010]
Painting on fir (Abies sp.)
[Klein, Report 2013]
[Exhib. Cat. Munich 2011, 137, No. 1416]
[Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, revised 2010]
[Klein, Report 2006]
Signature / Date:
Dated '1503' in black paint on a piece of white paper painted as a tromp l'oeil at the bottom edge of the painting (original trimmed)
[Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, revised 2010]
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
Inventory Label 1855: 1416
Inventory Label 1905: 1181
Label with the No. '212[...]' (Zweibrück Inventory 2123)

[Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, revised 2010]

Reverse of the panel:
- bottom left:
four labels: 'Cranach Ausstellung Berlin 1937'; 'Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen 1416'; 'Neues Inventar 1906 1181'; 'R [...]'

[Heydenreich 1995]
The Crucifixion is depicted with the composition rotated: Christ's cross is on the right, and the thieves are on the left, the Virgin and St John are in the centre. The Virgin looks up at Christ. On the right beneath Christ's cross there is a broad view of a landscape with mountains and a lake with a moated castle. The sky is filled with dark clouds.

[Martin Schawe, Alte Pinakothek Munich, 26.03.2010]
- 1804 removed from a cloister in southern Germany after it was secularized
[Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, revised 2010]
[Exhib. Cat. Munich 2011, 137, No. 1416]
Dresden 1899
Berlin 1937
Bern 1949/50
Munich 2011, No. 18
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Exhib. Cat. Weimar 201510
Bonnet, Görres 201522-235p. 23
Poulsen 2015 A63Fig. 1
Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt 20148528
Exhib. Cat. Munich 201194-99, 137Nos. 18, 1416Figs. p. 95, 97-99
Bonnet, Kopp-Schmidt, Görres 2010138-1395
Aikema 2010Fig. 1, p. 14
Brinkmann 2007213
Heydenreich 2007 A52-56, 97, 102, 107, 213f.
Cat. Munich 200648, 112 f.
Koepplin 2003 C160, 161, 165, Fn. 92Fig. 98
Kolind Poulsen 2003134Fig. 8
Heiser 200295-112
Heiden 1998140-145
Exhib. Cat. Eisenach 1998107
Schawe 1998160-166Figs. 18.1, 18.2, 18.3a-b, 18.4a-b
Heydenreich 1998 A198
Burmester 1998167-168
Sandner 1998 B84, 85, 90
Grimm 199868
Schawe 199610-22
Grimm 199436Fig. A20
Cat. Munich 1983146-148
Friedländer, Rosenberg 197966No. 5Fig. 5
Schade 197419 f.
Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974116-121, 142, 152, 211, 488, 523, 761Fig. 52
Kühn 197212, 30
Cat. Munich 196357 f.
Cat. Prague 1962under No. 54
Marette 1961282 f.973
Radocsay 195642
Jahn 1953 A25 ff.
Halm 1951127 ff.
Exhib. Cat. Bern 1949/19502623
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 193714005Pl. 9
Burke 193625 ff.
Weinberger 193310 ff.
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1932285
Weinberger 193015, 40f.
Halm 193070, Fn. 57
Benesch 1928 A63 ff., 99
Glaser 192324 ff.
Worringer 190886
Dörnhöffer 1904Sp. 175 ff.
Michaelson 190232f.
Flechsig 1900 A71 ff., 284
Woermann 190027
Flechsig 1900 B9No. 2
Exhib. Cat. Dresden 189992No. 147
Exhib. Cat. Dresden 189992147
Exhib. Cat. Dresden 189992147
Exhib. Cat. Dresden 189992No. 147
Rieffel 1897Sp. 170
Schmidt 1896287
Rieffel 1895425
Schmid 189482
Friedländer 1894 B474
Friedländer 1894 A
Schmidt 1892118
Schmidt 188939 f.
Cat. Schleissheim 1885No. 184
Bayersdorfer 1885184
Niedermayer 1884251
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
This crucifixion is not only one of the earliest known works by Lucas Cranach the Elder, but is also his first altarpiece.
[Exhib. Cat. Munich 2011, 137, No. 1416]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 24.11.2013
  • Scientific analysis
  • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology
  • 8.01 Support
  • - the panel is constructed from 7 planks (planks 3 and 7 are from the same tree; likewise with planks 4 and 6)
    - the earliest felling date is 1500; requiring at least two years seasoning the panel could not have been painted before 1502
    - examined on the 29.11.2009
    [Martin Schawe, Alte Pinakothek München, 26.03.2010]
    • analysed by: Peter Klein
    • Date: 2010
    • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
    • Infrared reflectography
    • Stereomicroscopy
    • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Alte Pinakothek, Munich - The Lamentation of Christ - ReverseLucas Cranach the Elder - Alte Pinakothek, Munich - The Lamentation of Christ - Infrared Images
    • 8.01 Support
    • - the support consists of 7 vertical fir wood planks (15.6-14.6, 13.3-13.9, 15.7-16.3, 13.8-12.6, 14.0-14.6, 12.5-11.1, 14.8-15.8; 138 x 99.3 cm; a ratio of c. 4:3)
      - the rebate has been preserved along the top, bottom and right edges
      - the edge of the panel has been bevelled slightly on the reverse along all four sides
      - the left side of the panel has been trimmed
    • 8.02 Ground and Imprimatura
    • - the painting has a white ground
      - a barbe created by the ground is present along the top, bottom and right edges

      - lead white and red lead imprimatura
    • 8.03 Underdrawing
    • - distinctive underdrawing, toned with washes
      - corrections were made: in the Virgin's face, the direction of her gaze was changed; the contours of Christ's head, the position was altered in relation to the Virgin's gaze; and finally to the contours of the bushes and foliage
    • 8.04 Paint Layers and Gilding
    • - the painted area of the panel measures 136-135.6 x 97-97.5
      - there appear to be fingerprints in the trunk of the birch tree above the thief's hand
      - alterations made during the painting process to the position of St. John's head and his hand gestures (first praying and then linking his right arm with the Virgin) are visible in the x-radiograph
      • written by: Martin Schawe
      • written by: Poll-Frommel
      • photographed by: Florian Bayerer
      • Date: 2010
      • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
      • X-radiography
      • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Alte Pinakothek, Munich - The Lamentation of Christ - X-RadiographsLucas Cranach the Elder - Alte Pinakothek, Munich - The Lamentation of Christ - X-Radiographs
      • 8.07
      • All the figures have a similar appearance in the x-radiograph. The execution of the thieves, the Virgin and St John correspond to a greater extent with the final painted version, whereas the paint application modulating the figure of Christ is more impetuous. The highlights are softer and blurred, so that no brushstrokes are visible. St John’s head appears undefined due to the fact that its position was changed.
        • written by: Martin Schawe
        • Date: 30.03.2006
        • Scientific analysis
        • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology
        • 8.01 Support
        • Identification of wood species: Fir (Abies sp.)
          Examination carried out in 1996

          [Martin Schawe, Alte Pinakothek Munich, 26.03.2010]
          • analysed by: Peter Klein
          • Date: 19.07.1995
          • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
          • Infrared reflectography
          • X-radiography
          • Stereomicroscopy
          • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Alte Pinakothek, Munich - The Lamentation of Christ - ReverseLucas Cranach the Elder - Alte Pinakothek, Munich - The Lamentation of Christ - Infrared Images
          • 8.01 Support
          • Examination under the stereomicroscope; including evaluation of x-radiograph and infrared reflectograms:
            - the support (138 x 99.3 cm) consists of seven vertical planks (15.6-14.6, 13.3-13.9, 15.7-16.3, 13.8-12.6, 14.0-14.6, 12.5-11.1, 14.8-15.8)
            - the reverse of the panel is preserved in its original condition and is without a coating
            - all four sides have a broad bevel on the reverse
            - the ratio of height to width is c. 4:3.
            - seven planks from the top left to the top right: 15.6/13.3/15.7/13.8/14.0/12.5/14.8; from the bottom left to the bottom right: 14.6/13.9/16.3/12.6/14.6/11.1/15.8
            - the vertical planks are butt joined and glued
            - there is no treatment of damage visible; several knots have been left in the wood
            - the joins have not been reinforced; there is no fibrous material on the front of the panel
            - the reverse has been roughly smoothed with a plane in the direction of the grain, the width of the plane was c. 2.5 cm, there are remains of a fibrous material, which was attached to the entire surface on the reverse
            - open woodworm channels suggest that this application was once thicker
            - an original 6-8 cm beveled edge runs around all four sides of the reverse, it was executed with a plane and the panel thickness was reduced from 1.5 cm to between 0.6 and 0.8 cm
          • 8.02 Ground and Imprimatura
          • - white ground
            - in the x-radiograph single light dots are visible. These are probably air bubbles in the ground that have been sanded down and subsequently filled with the imprimatur, which contains lead based pigments and is therefore visible in the x-radiograph.
            - the barbe created by the ground is intact along the top, bottom and right side of the panel, c. 0.8-1.3 cm from the edge; on the bottom half of the panel the ground extends to the edge on the left side – probably because it was planed down slightly
            - no incised lines are visible along the edge of the painted surface

            - light pink imprimatura
            - infrared reflectography revealed broad stripes in the sky, which suggest that the imprimatura was applied with a brush. Due to the slightly rough surface the paint containing carbon employed in the grey clouds has collected in the recesses. The same structure is visible in the x-radiography particularly in the upper two thirds of the painted image where it tapers diagonally from left to right.
            - visible light lines suggest that the imprimatura contains a pigment with a lead component. Examination of the surface under the stereomicroscope showed an admixture of white and orange red pigments. It is presumably a mixture of lead white and red lead (minium).
          • 8.05 Framing
          • - not original
          • 8.03 Underdrawing
          • - infrared reflectography revealed an underdrawing executed with a brush in a fluid black drawing material.
            - the contours of the figures are carried out with longer brushstrokes and have been repeatedly gone over in places to fix them. Smaller individual shapes have been outlined with short, bold or wavy lines. Generally the inner forms are only briefly indicated with lines, but in some areas they are specified with parallel hatching. The modulation of the shadow is carried out with an ink wash (compare with ‘The fourteen Good Samaritans’, Torgau). The transition between the hatching and the wash appears blurred.
            - in the infrared reflectogram the underdrawing of the central figures of Christ, the Virgin and St John are more distinct than that of the two thieves. It is possible that that the artist employed ink with different amounts of diluents.
          • 8.04 Paint Layers and Gilding
          • THE VIRGIN
            Flesh Paint
            The flesh paint contains lead white, red pigments (appears to be Vermilion), blue pigments (appears to be azurite), black pigments as well as brown pigments.
            The x-radiograph reveals that the highlights in the face have a greater proportion of lead white. The shadows are modeled with brown glazes (with a visible amount of black).
            Blue pigments have been added to the cooler highlights. The pupil is blue and the eyeball also contains blue pigment. On comparison with the underdrawing the right upper eyelid has been lowered slightly in the painted version.

            The headscarf was painted essentially with a mixture of lead white and a reddish brown lake like pigment (single red lake pigments). The underdrawing appears to have been incorporated to create the modeling of the shadows. The brownish amber coloured ‚Pigment‘ appears to be semi-transparent and not solid. The cause of the numerous crater-like recesses in the paint surface requires more investigation.

            Blue Draperies
            The Virgin’s blue robe was painted wet-in-wet and modulated with varying proportions of lead white. The image is not clear in the x-radiograph. The paint has been applied more thickly than in other areas of the painting.

            Red undergarment
            The undergarment was essentially modeled in red lake glazes and in this respect is quite different from St John’s robe.

            ST JOHN
            Flesh Paint
            The painterly execution of the head was relatively complete before the position of the head was altered. It is clear from the x-radiograph that the head, which was originally inclined towards the Virgin was straightened slightly and turned more towards the viewer.
            The highlights on the light flesh tone were applied with a lighter paint made cooler by the addition of blue pigments. The shadow was achieved essentially with the application of brown glazes.
            The initial paint layer of the lips was carried out in vermilion red with white highlights and modulated with a red lake glaze.
            The outer contours of the left foot were painted with the same paint as the floor.

            Red draperies
            The underpainting of the robe is modulated with a mixture of red and lead white in varying quantities. Subsequently the shadows were applied in red lake and black (?). Slight corrections of the contours are visible in the area of the left shoulder and the hip.

            A light coloured application of flesh paint was applied over the underdrawing of the body, which had been modulated with washes. The highlights were added with a smooth to dabbed application of paint containing a greater proportion of lead white.
            The body of Christ appears more three dimensional in the x-radiography. Blue pigment was added to the light coloured flesh paint.

            The yellowish brown (amber coloured) glazes contain small quantities of very finely ground red pigments and red lake. A micro-craquelée extends out from the semi-transparent brownish inclusions.

            The branches of the trees without foliage were partially executed before the paint of the dark clouds was quite dry. The glazes employed for the shadow on the trunk of the beech above the cross were spread with the finger or the fist.

            The foliage has an initial dark application of paint. Single leaves were subsequently painted in a lighter green and differentiated with a semi-transparent glaze. The now brownish appearance of the glazes is probably to a greater extent the result of ageing.
            The paint applications overlapalternately: while the initial layer of dark green paint was applied over that of the Virgin’s headscarf, the white highlights on the scarf were applied later. The greenish brown glazes on the other hand were applied over the headscarf.

            The foliage was held in reserve when the blue sky paint, which contains varying proportions of blue pigments (appears to be azurite) and lead white, was dabbed on. The dark clouds additionally contain some black pigments.

            - No gilding was detected on the painting.
            • written by: Gunnar Heydenreich
            • Date: 1995
            • Infrared reflectography
            • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Alte Pinakothek, Munich - The Lamentation of Christ - Infrared Images
            • 8.03 Underdrawing
            • DESCRIPTION

              - fluid, black medium and brush

              - freehand underdrawing
              - thin lines combined with broader lines
              - occasional hatching-strokes and washes

              - binding for the final painted version; lines delineate contours and indicate the essential features; the broader lines are more sketchy; occasional representation of volume with hatching-strokes and washes

              - almost no alterations made during the painting process


              - Lucas Cranach the Elder

              - the thieves may have been executed employing a more diluted medium as they appear lighter

              [Smith, Sandner, Heydenreich revised 2014]
              • photographed by: BStGS Doerner Institut
              Condition Reports:
              • Date: 2010
              • Support:
                - trimmed along the left edge; losses along the bottom edge and in both corners
                - woodworm channels partially open
                - remains of a protective coating
                - wooden blocks have been glued to the reverse to reinforce the splits in the panel
              • written by: BStGS Doerner Institut
              • Date: 19.07.1995
              • Support:
                - the support is stable and in good condition
                - it has been planed down slightly along the left edge, below the centre
                - 12 wooden blocks were glued to the reverse of the panel to reinforce the splits
                - the panel has been weakened slightly by wood worm channels in the lower third and at the edge of some of the planks

                Painted surface:
                - the paint layers are well preserved
                - there are a number of losses in the landscape in the background, particularly next to the trunk of the beech tree
                -there is very little craquellée
                - there are prominent drying cracks in St John's red robe, in the Virgin's blue robe and to a lesser extent in the brown paint to the right of the cross
                - there are insignificant drying cracks in the flesh paint of St John and the areas of brown hair
              • written by: Gunnar Heydenreich
              History of Restoration:
              • Date: 1886
              • 1886: Report 1886 No. 23 (Archiv ad Fach XIV, W, 3 D)
                - without details

                [Martin Schawe, Alte Pinakothek Munich, 26.03.2010]