Cranach - Jesus blessing the Children
Jesus blessing the Children
Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger
Schloss Gottorf, Landesmuseum für Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte, Schleswig
02.03.2021 - 11:29
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberDE_SHLM_1989-480
Persistent Link
FR (1978) No.FR-none
Jesus blessing the Children[cda 2013]
Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger [Schloss Gottorf, revised 2013]
about 1560[Schloss Gottorf, revised 2013]
Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerStiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen Schloss Gottorf, Schleswig
RepositorySchloss Gottorf, Landesmuseum für Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte, Schleswig
Dimensions of support: 57 x 75.8 cm [Schloss Gottorf, revised 2013]
Painting on copper plate [Schloss Gottorf, revised 2013]
Signature / Date:
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
Christ is depicted in three-quarter profile facing to his left and standing in the centre of a half-length figural group. He holds an infant on his left arm and with his right hand he touches another held by its mother. The donors are positioned on his right and left: a man, his deceased first wife and his son wearing a shroud as well as presumably his second wife. The donor touches the right arm of Jesus. On the right side of the painting there are three mothers with infants, one of them breast feeding. On the left half of the painting another mother and child is shown in the background. Four disciples are tiered one behind the other on the left edge of the painting. [Dittmeyer, Schloss Gottorf 2013]
- 1989 acquired for the museum at an auction by the Holsten-Brauerei Hamburg AG

[Schloss Gottorf, revised 2013]
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Ahuis 2017258-261
Wolf 2015175
Fleischhauer 200574Fig. 5
Cat. Schleswig 1997294No. 145Fig. p. 127
Bünsche 1990
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
On the basis of other portraits by Lucas Cranach the Younger it was possible to identify the male figure clothed in black on the left side of the painting as Dr. Caspar Cruciger the Elder (1504-1548), a theologian from Wittenberg and a companion of both Luther and Melanchtons.
Cruciger was first married to Elizabeth of Meseritz, who died in 1535. In 1536 he married Apollonia Günterode, who died in 1557. The women clothed in black with portrait-like features could be identified as the two wives. The one on the left, shown in profile, was probably added to the composition later, which explains her rather cramped position. Accordingly this could be Apollonia, who died in 1557, the year when the painting was created. The young boy in the foreground and the infant presented to Jesus on a black cloth could be Cruciger’s deceased sons.
Cruciger had two sons and one daughter from his first marriage and one son and three daughters from his second. Drees presumes that the four young women depicted with infants represent his daughters and that the youngest boy at top left is his third son Caspar Cruciger the Younger.
The panel may originally have been intended for the parish church of Wittenberg where Cruciger was buried in 1548.
The subject of 'Christ Blessing the Children' was not known before the Reformation. It can be interpreted as a reaction to the Anabaptists' rejection of the baptism of children. Luther invoked the quoted biblical text Mk 10 as justification.
In the Cranach workshop numerous paintings were created illustrating this subject, whereby no two are identical. One of these paintings was once also in the ducal collection in Gottorf palace (now in Copenhagen, FR362F): it arrived there as part of a dowery from the Saxon Princess Maria Elizabeth who married Duke Friedrich III of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf in 1630.
The present panel can be distinguished from other depictions of the same subject by on the one hand the addition of the donors and on the other hand the material of the support, which is copper. It is one of the earliest known examples of painting on copper in Germany.
[Daria Dittmeyer, Schloss Gottorf 2013]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 08. 2012
  • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
  • Infrared reflectography
  • Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger - Schloss Gottorf, Landesmuseum für Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte, Schleswig - Jesus blessing the Children - Infrared Images
  • Underdrawing

    - dry drawing material, dark chalk

    - freehand underdrawing
    - thin lines

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

    - minor alterations made during the painting process to clearly define form; small changes (additional child’s head behind Christ)


    - Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger?

    - possibly with reference to a preparatory drawing or a pre-existing design

    [Smith, Sandner, Heydenreich, cda 2013]
    • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
    • photographed by: Ingo Sandner