Cranach - Melancholia
Lucas Cranach the Elder
Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar
13.06.2021 - 13:47
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberF_MUC_83-5-1
Persistent Link
FR (1978) No.FR277A
Melancholia[CDA 2011]
Lucas Cranach the Elder [Exhib. Cat. Brussels, Paris 2010/2011, 233, No. 153]
Lucas Cranach the Elder (assisted by Hans Cranach?)[Koepplin, Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974, 292, No. 172]
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Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerMusée d'Unterlinden, Colmar
RepositoryMusée d'Unterlinden, Colmar
Dimensions of support: 76.5 x 56.0 cm [Exhib. Cat. Brussels, Paris 2010/2011, 233, No. 153]
Painting on wood [Exhib. Cat. Brussels, Paris 2010/2011, 233, No. 153]
Signature / Date:
Artist's insignia on the front edge of the table: winged serpent with elevated wings, facing right and dated '1532'
A female figure with wings sits at the edge of the painting in a make believe architectural setting with a view of a landscape. In the middle distance four children play - one swings in a looped rope. At the top left edge of the painting four mounted witches and a man on a ram are depicted in front of a black cloud.
- 1966 Baron Stig Klingspor Collection, Raback
- Swiss Private Collection
- 1983 acquired at Colnaghi's, New York

[Exhib. Cat. Brussels, Paris 2010/2011, 233, No. 153]
Stockholm 1966
Basel 1974
Frankfurt 2007
Brussels, Paris 2010/2011
Düsseldorf 2017, No. 141
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017238No. 141
Heydenreich 2015122Fig. 4b
Axthelm-Hoffmann 2012192-1933
Exhib. Cat. Paris 2011233No. 153
Exhib. Cat. Brussels 2010233-234153pp. 233, 256
Koepplin 2007 B63
Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt 2007318-31998p. 319
Hersant 2005110-111
Koepplin 2003 C147, 148, 150, 151Figs. 41, 42
Cat. Colmar 199155, 57
Cat. Colmar 1990No. 68
Heck 1986
Miguet 1985
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979125No. 277A
Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974269-270, 292-293, 422, 499, 742No. 172
Exhib. Cat. Stockholm 1966514No. 1291
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
'Devilish temptation is exuded here also. A vainly dressed man is abducted on a ram by witches, children play mischievous games with a rope swing, one doesn’t know. A plate of fruit and a goblet remain untouched. Two partridges, as they are otherwise depicted by Cranach with the Nymph of the Fountain (from the entourage of the Huntung Goddess Diana), contrast with the doleful, inactive hound. (see No. 544ff. colour plate 17).
The artistic quality corresponds with the 'autographed' works by Cranach and may be marked with a real Cranach insigna; it is however not quite of the same standard as comparable works. Did the 19 year old Hans Cranach contribute to this work? The soft the brushstrokes could stem from him (see No. 473).’

[Koepplin, Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974, 292-293, No. 172]
'Cranach responded to Dürer's engraving of 'Melancholy' from 1514, possibly the 'most spoken about and commented work in the history of art' (Mende), with a series of paintings, all of them created between 1528 (FR277A) and 1533 (FR277). The fact that these works were created within a few years of each other but a certain time after the highly complex image by the artist from Nuremburg raises the question of whether there was an external cause. Koepplin convincingly speculates this may be related to Luther's view on Melancholy and its negative consequences. Based on these Cranach designed his antithesis/counter-images to Dürer's new, now positively tainted interpretation of the melancholic disposition. Under the influence of Neoplatonism Dürer emphasized the creative powers roused by Melancholy in his engraving and as it were bequeathed a programmatic image of his artistic self...'

[Messling, Exhib. Cat. Brussels, Paris 2010/2011, 233, No. 153]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 10. 2010
  • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
  • Infrared reflectography
  • Lucas Cranach the Elder - Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar - Melancholia - Infrared Images
  • Underdrawing
  • - an underdrawing is not visible
    [Smith, Sandner, Heydenreich, cda 2012]
    • photographed by: Gunnar Heydenreich
    • photographed by: Ingo Sandner