Epitaph of Michael Meyenburg: The Raising of Lazarus

Epitaph of Michael Meyenburg: The Raising of Lazarus

Title

Epitaph of Michael Meyenburg: The Raising of Lazarus

[cda 2015]

Painting on wood

Medium

Painting on wood

[Exhib. Cat. Berlin 1937, No. 139]

The story of the raising of Lazarus is illustrated by a composition containing many figures. In the centre of the image the risen Lazarus sits at the edge of his open grave, with his left foot at the bottom narrow edge and his right foot supported by the rim of

The story of the raising of Lazarus is illustrated by a composition containing many figures. In the centre of the image the risen Lazarus sits at the edge of his open grave, with his left foot at the bottom narrow edge and his right foot supported by the rim of the grave. Lazarus still wears the burial shroud that covers his lap, back and forehead. His hands are held in an attitude of prayer and he gazes reverently at Christ, who stands opposite him at the bottom narrow edge of the grave. Lazarus' grave was opened at Christ's behest and his right foot rests on the stone ledger. The resulting stance lends Christ an active bearing as does the act of blessing performed with his left hand, which can also be read as an indication to the risen one. The year 1558 and a serpent insignia with birds' wings can be found on the ledger. Christ's face reveals a serene gentleness and his head is surrounded by an unobtrusive aureole. Five women directly behind the grave have fallen to their knees while witnessing the miracle; full of awe the two at the front, who can be identified as the sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, gaze up at Christ. In the light of the accomplished miracle even the group of disciples behind Christ is in turmoil.[...]

In the painting the group of disciples ends with the figure of St Paul at the left edge. He turns towards the group on the right, while pointing in the opposite direction with his right hand. With this gesture Cranach not only creates a connection to the group of kneeling women, but also repeats a variant form of Christ's gesture. This repetition embeds both corner points of the figurative group in a stable framework and separates it from the other male figures in the background. This group has entered the areal through a renaissance portal in front of which a wall overgrown with vines extends on both sides. Beyond the wall a view of a landscape is visible on the left and on the right a very prominent castle complex can been seen on top of a hill. One figure in the centre of the group covers her nose and mouth with her robe to protect herself from the smell of the corpse, which was explicitly mentioned in St John's Gospel.

The foreground is occupied by the donor family. The head of the family Michael Meyenburg (d. 1555) kneels in an attitude of prayer to the left of the centre. He was born in 1491 in Steinau, Hessen and after studying law began his career as a lower town clerk and as syndic and mayor from 1540 became a formative figure in the free imperial city of Nordhausen. Cranach depicts him with both sober and serious features. The Meyenburg's coat-of-arms, conferred by Charles V, is represented at the bottom edge of the painting. Behind him are gathered the eight male off-springs. As is illustrated in the image three of his sons died in childhood. [...] the right side of the foreground is occupied by the female branch of the Meyenburg family. The daughter Ursula kneels at the front, opposite her father, while Meyenburg's two wives are positioned behind. Meyenburg's first wife Ursula Lachenbeck kneels positioned slightly further back. She was the daughter of the Fugger hat manufacturer Mattias Lachenbeck from Gotha. [...] Anna Reinicke together with her family coat-of-arms occupies the bottom right corner of the composition. She was the daughter of Luther's childhood friend, Johannes Reinicke, the hat manufacturer and copper merchant from Eisenach, and Meyenburg's second wife. The whole family kneels on a narrow strip at the bottom edge of the painting. The detailed and rich vegetation sets it apart from the barren condition of the ground in the burial site, but nevertheless creates a consistent common pictorial space.

To the left of the biblical event is a group of prominent representatives of the reformation and humanism. It is also part of this pictorial space even if compositionally clearly separated from the rest of the figures. In the first row Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon are positioned opposite each other, portraits of Caspar Cruciger, Justus Jonas, Erasmus of Rotterdam and Johannes Bugenhagen are placed next to each other to the left of Melanchthon. These can be clearly identified by their portraits as can Johann Forster, who can be seen behind Luther with a beard and a fur cloak. The remaining three men, whose faces are cropped, cannot be so readily identified. It is most likely that the face visible between Forster and Luther is that of Georg Spalatin.

[Görres 2015 A, 245-247]

Attribution
Lucas Cranach the Younger

Attribution

Lucas Cranach the Younger

[cda 2015]

Production date
1558

Production date

1558

[dated]

Dimensions
Dimension of support: 223 x 200 cm

Dimensions

  • Dimension of support: 223 x 200 cm

  • [Exhib. Cat. Berlin 1937, No. 139]

Signature / Dating
Artist's insignia central on gravestone: winged serpent with dropped wings facing right and dated '1558'; in black paint

Signature / Dating

  • Artist's insignia central on gravestone: winged serpent with dropped wings facing right and dated '1558'; in black paint

  • [cda 2015]

Owner
Evangelische Kirchengemeinde St. Blasii, Nordhausen
Repository
painting not preserved
CDA ID
DE_BKN-Lost_NONE-001
FR (1978) Nr.
FR-none
Persistent Link
https://lucascranach.org/en/DE_BKN-Lost_NONE-001/

Provenance

  • originally 'on the left side in the chancel ('zur lincken Seiten im Chore') of the Church of St Blaise in Nordhausen [Kindervater 1715, 164]

  • destroyed during the Second World War and replaced by a copy created in 1927 [cda 2015]

  • 1945 transferred to the cellar of the Aktien brewery, Nordhausen: officials claim the altarpiece was destroyed during the bomb attack on the 3rd and 4th of April 1945. Wittnesses claim that the Americans searched for the altarpiece and took it with them.
    See also the entry in the Lost Art-database, Stiftung Deutsches Zentrum für Kulturgutverluste: Lost Art-ID 001209; http://www.lostart.de/DE/Verlust/1209 (accessed 17 Dec. 2019).

Exhibitions

  • Berlin 1937, No. 139

Literature

Reference on page Catalogue Number Figure/Plate
Weschenfelder 2018 A 11-13 Fig. 5 (detail)
AuthorKlaus Weschenfelder
TitleCranach in Coburg.
Publicationin Klaus Weschenfelder, ed., Cranach in Coburg. Gemälde von Lucas Cranach d.Ä., Lucas Cranach d.J., der Werkstatt und des Umkreises in den Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg
Place of PublicationRegensburg
Year of Publication2018
Pages7-23
Görres 2015 A 247-253 Figs. 3, 5, 6
AuthorDaniel Görres
TitleVon Fürsten und Bürgern, Theologen und Malern. Repräsentation und Memoria in Bildprogrammen Cranachs des Jüngeren
Publicationin, Elke A. Werner, Anne Eusterschulte, Gunnar Heydenreich, eds., Lucas Cranach der Jüngere und die Reformation der Bilder
Place of PublicationMunich
Year of Publication2015
Link https://lucascranach.org/application/files/4615/6232/3882/Goerres_2015_-_Fuersten_und_Buerger.pdf
Pages141-151
Görres et al. 2015 247-253 Figs. 3, 5, 6
AuthorDaniel Görres, Gunnar Heydenreich, Jana Herrschaft
TitleDie Werkstatt Cranachs des Jüngeren.
Publicationin R. Enke, K. Schneider, J. Strehle, eds., Lucas Cranach der Jüngere. Entdeckung eines Meisters
Place of PublicationMunich
Year of Publication2015
Link https://lucascranach.org/application/files/7116/2097/3065/Heydenreich_Goerres_Herrschaft_2015_Die_Werkstatt_Cranachs_des_Juengeren.pdf
Pages64-77
Rhein 2015 48
AuthorStefan Rhein
TitleLucas Cranach der Jüngere und Philipp Melanchthon. Zu den Spuren einer Wittenberger Beziehung
Publicationin Elke E. Werner, Anne Eusterschulte, Gunnar Heydenreich, eds., Lucas Cranach der Jüngere und die Reformation der Bilder
Place of PublicationMunich
Year of Publication2015
Pages42-51
Waterman 2015 285, Fn. 27
AuthorJoshua P. Waterman
TitleThe Artistic Emergence of Lucas Cranach the Younger
Publicationin Elke E. Werner, Anne Eusterschulte, Gunnar Heydenreich, eds., Lucas Cranach der Jüngere und die Reformation der Bilder
Place of PublicationMunich
Year of Publication2015
Pages280-289
Werner 2015
AuthorElke Anna Werner
TitleLucas Cranach der Jüngere und die Reformation der Bilder. Zur Einführung
Publicationin Elke E. Werner, Anne Eusterschulte, Gunnar Heydenreich, eds., Lucas Cranach der Jüngere und die Reformation der Bilder
Place of PublicationMunich
Year of Publication2015
Pages8-16
Oexle 2009 71-72
AuthorOtto Gerhard Oexle
TitleDie Memoria der Reformation. Das Dessauer Altarbild Lucas Cranachs des Jüngeren
Publicationin Hans-Joachim Krause, Andreas Ranft, eds., Studien zur mittelalterlichen und frühneuzeitlichen Kunstgeschichte und Geschichte
Place of PublicationStuttgart
Year of Publication2009
Pages53-79
Cat. Stuttgart 2007 under No. 147
EditorHans-Martin Kaulbach
TitleStaatsgalerie Stuttgart. Deutsche Zeichnungen vom Mittelalter bis zum Barock. Bestandskatalog
Place of PublicationOstfildern
Year of Publication2007
Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005 316 under No. 19 Fig. 141
EditorHarald Marx, Karin Kolb, Ingrid Mössinger
TitleCranach Anlässlich der Ausstellung Cranach vom 13. November 2005 bis 12. März 2006 in den Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz. Eine Ausstellung in Kooperation mit der Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Place of PublicationCologne
Year of Publication2005
Schulze 2004 135-148
AuthorIngrid Schulze
TitleLucas Cranach d. J. und die protestantische Bildkunst in Sachsen und Thüringen. Frömmigkeit, Theologie, Fürstenreformation
Place of PublicationBucha near Jena
Year of Publication2004
Rabenau 1997 12
AuthorKonrad von Rabenau
TitleBildnisse von Philipp Melanchthon und Fürst Georg von Anhalt auf den Büchern der Reformationszeit
JournalDessauer Kalender
Issue41 (1997)
Year of Publication1997
Pages2-19
Erichsen 1994 B 181
AuthorJohannes Erichsen
TitleVorlagen und Werkstattmodelle bei Lucas Cranach
Publicationin Claus Grimm, Johannes Erichsen, Evamaria Brockhof, eds., Lucas Cranach. Ein Maler-Unternehmer aus Franken, Exhib. Cat. Kronach 1994
SeriesVeröffentlichungen zur bayerischen Geschichte und Kultur
Volume26/94
Place of PublicationAugsburg, Coburg
Year of Publication1994
Pages180-185
Kneffel 1994
AuthorHeidelore Kneffel
TitleCranachgemälde "Die Auferstehung des Lazarus" in der St.-Blasii-Kirche in Nordhausen
JournalJahrbuch des Landkreises Nordhausen
Year of Publication1994
Pages37-40
Stievermann 1994 72
AuthorDieter Stievermann
TitleLucas Cranach und der Kursächsische Hof
Publicationin Claus Grimm, Johannes Erichsen, Evamaria Brockhoff, eds., Lucas Cranach. Ein Maler-Unternehmer aus Franken, Exhib. Cat. Kronach 1994
SeriesVeröffentlichungen zur bayerischen Geschichte und Kultur
Volume26
Place of PublicationAugsburg, Coburg
Year of Publication1994
Pages66-77
Schade 1968 B 70
AuthorWerner Schade
TitleDie Epitaphbilder Lucas Cranach d. J.
Publicationin Bozena Steinborn, ed., Ze Studiów nad Sztuka XVI Wieku na Slasku i w Krajach Sasiednich(Materialy z konferencji urzadzonej przez Muzeum Slaskie we Wroclaw 10 i 17 grudnia 1966 roku)
Place of PublicationBreslau
Year of Publication1968
Pages63-76
Thulin 1955 75-95
AuthorOskar Thulin
TitleCranach-Altäre der Reformation
Place of PublicationBerlin
Year of Publication1955
Müller 1954 176-178
AuthorR. H. Walther Müller
TitleDas Cranachgemälde in der Blasiikirche und die Familie Meyenburg
JournalDer Nordhäuser Roland
Year of Publication1954
Pages176-178
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 1937 50 139 Pl. 106
EditorStaatliche Museen, Berlin
TitleLucas Cranach d. Ä. und Lucas Cranach d. J. Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Graphik
Place of PublicationBerlin
Year of Publication1937
Rackwitz 1883 41-44
AuthorRichard Rackwitz
TitleNachrichten über die St. Blasii-Bibliothek in Nordhausen und das Kloster Himmelgarten bei Nordhausen, dem die Bibliothek entstammt
Place of PublicationNordhausen
Year of Publication1883
Förstemann 1855 55-56
AuthorErnst Günther Förstemann
TitleKleine Schriften zur Geschichte der Stadt Nordhausen
Place of PublicationNordhausen
Year of Publication1855
Kindervater 1724 116-118
AuthorJohann Heinrich Kindervater
TitleGloria Templi Blasiani, Oder: Ehren-Bedaechtniß Der Kirche S. Blasii in der Reichs-Stadt Nordhausen
Place of PublicationNordhausen
Year of Publication1724
Kindervater 1715 164-165, 167
AuthorJohann Heinrich Kindervater
TitleNordhvsa illvstris, oder Historische Beschreibung Gelehrter Leute, Welche in der Kaeyserl. Freyen Reichs-Stadt Nordhausen gebohren [...]
Place of PublicationWolfenbüttel
Year of Publication1715
  • Epitaph of Michael Meyenburg: The Raising of Lazarus, 1558

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