Portable Altarpiece belonging to Landgrave Wilhelm II. of Hesse and Anna of Mecklenburg: St Catherine [right wing]

Portable Altarpiece belonging to Landgrave Wilhelm II. of Hesse and Anna of Mecklenburg: St Catherine [right wing]

Titles

Portable Altarpiece belonging to Landgrave Wilhelm II. of Hesse and Anna of Mecklenburg: St Catherine [right wing]

[cda 2013]

A portable altarpiece

[Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, 70, no. 17]

Painting on lime wood

Medium

Painting on lime wood

[Exhib. Cat. Gotha, Kassel 2015, 98, No. 3]

Recto:

St Catherine is allocated the attributes of the wheel, on which she was tortured and the sword, with which she was killed. As one of the Helpers in Need invocated to relieve the suffering of the sick she is often depicted together with St Barbara on other paintings by Cranach.

Recto:

St Catherine is allocated the attributes of the wheel, on which she was tortured and the sword, with which she was killed. As one of the Helpers in Need invocated to relieve the suffering of the sick she is often depicted together with St Barbara on other paintings by Cranach. [...] The costume worn by St Catharine is similar to contemporary saxon court dress with its emboidered bib, long sleeves, which are tight at the shoulders and puffed at the elbows and the floor-length skirt.

[Cat. Kassel 1997, 56]

Verso:

coat-of-arms of Mecklenburg, shield divided into four fields with a heart-shaped shield in the centre.

  1. a crowned black bull with a gold ring in its nose on gold ground

  2. a striding golden griffin on black ground

  3. a flesh coloured arm with a reddish brown cloth wrapped aound it and a golden ring in the hand on red ground

  4. a crowned bull's head in black and gold with a red open mouth.

Heart-shaped shield: a striding red lion on black ground

All areas of gold gilding are matt

[Cat. Kassel 1997, 54]

Attribution
Lucas Cranach the Elder

Attribution

Lucas Cranach the Elder

[Exhib. Cat. Gotha 2015, No. 3] [Grimm 1998, 68][Cat. Kassel 1997, 53] [Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, 70, no. 17]

Production dates
about 1508 - 1509
about 1509 - 1510

Production dates

about 1508 - 1509

[Cat. Kassel 1997, 53]

about 1508 - 1510

[Exhib. Cat. Gotha 2015, No. 3]

about 1509 - 1510

[Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt, London 2007/2008, No. 23]

about 1509

[Grimm 1998, 68]

Dimensions
Clear dimensions: 39.1 x 10/9.9 (bottom/top) x 0.7 cm

Dimensions

  • Clear dimensions: 39.1 x 10/9.9 (bottom/top) x 0.7 cm

  • [Cat. Kassel 1997, 65-68]

  • Dimensions including frame: 45.2 x 16.4 cm

  • [cda 2013]

Signature / Dating
None
Owner
Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel
Repository
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Kassel
Location
Kassel
CDA ID
DE_MHK_GK11c
FR (1978) Nr.
FR017
Persistent Link
https://lucascranach.org/en/DE_MHK_GK11c/

Provenance

  • it is not known how long the altarpiece remained the property of the landgrave from Hessen
  • 1903 the property of Wilhelm Schmidt, Munich
  • 1904 bought by Ludwig Mond (1839-1909)
  • 1905 bequest from Ludwig Mond to the Gemäldegalerie

[Cat. Kassel 1997, 53]
[Exhib. Cat. Gotha, Kassel 2015, 98, No. 3]

Exhibitions

Marburg/Lahn 1928, No. 150
Berlin 1937, No. 12
Basel 1974, No. 294
Kronach 1994, No. 134
Eisenach 1998, No. 17.4
Tokyo 1998
Frankfurt/London 2007/2008, No. 23
Coburg 2010
Gotha/Kassel 2015, No. 3
Düsseldorf 2017, No. 23

Literature

Reference on page Catalogue Number Figure/Plate
Cat. Coburg 2018 56, fn. 7 under no. 7
AuthorKlaus Weschenfelder
TitleCranach 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
Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017 120 No. 23
EditorGunnar Heydenreich, Daniel Görres, Beat Wismer
TitleLucas Cranach der Ältere. Meister - Marke - Moderne. [anlässlich der Ausstellung "Cranach. Meister - Marke - Moderne", Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, 08. April 2017 - 30. Juli 2017]
Place of PublicationMünchen
Year of Publication2017
Exhib. Cat. Gotha, Kassel 2015 98, 99 3 Pl. p. 99; Fig. 1
EditorJulia Carrasco, Justus Lange, Benjamin D. Spira, Timo Trümper, Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha
TitleBild und Botschaft. Cranach im Dienst von Hof und Reformation, [Gotha, Herzogliches Museum; Kassel, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Schloss Wilhelmshöhe]
Place of PublicationHeidelberg
Year of Publication2015
Lange 2015 31-33 Figs. 4, 5
AuthorJustus Lange
TitleLucas Cranach und die Landgrafschaft Hessen
Publicationin Julia Carrasco, Justus Lange, Benjamin D. Spira, Timo Trümper, Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha and Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, eds., Bild und Botschaft. Cranach im Dienst von Hof und Reformation, [Exhib. Cat. Gotha, Kassel]
Place of PublicationHeidelberg
Year of Publication2015
Pages29-42
Exhib. Cat. Coburg 2010 181-182 No. 1.2.13 Fig. 1.2.13
EditorLWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur, Münster, Klaus Weschenfelder, Beate Böckum, Ruth Hansmann, Matthias Müller
TitleApelles am Fürstenhof, Facetten der Hofkunst um 1500 im Alten Reich
Place of PublicationBerlin
Year of Publication2010
Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt 2007 164-165 23 p. 165
EditorBodo Brinkmann
TitleCranach der Ältere, [Frankfurt, Städel Museum, 23 Nov 2007 - 17 Feb 2008]
Place of PublicationOstfildern
Year of Publication2007
Heydenreich 2007 A 63, 77, 119, 120, 122, 124, 140, 187, 219, 291, 394 98, 108, 109
AuthorGunnar Heydenreich
TitleLucas Cranach the Elder
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Year of Publication2007
Link https://lucascranach.org/application/files/6116/2097/3099/Heydenreich_2007_Lucas_Cranach_the_Elder.pdf
Exhib. Cat. Eisenach 1998 158 No. 17.4 Fig. 17.4
EditorWartburg-Stiftung, Eisenach, Fachhochschule , Ingo Sandner
TitleUnsichtbare Meisterzeichnungen auf dem Malgrund. Cranach und seine Zeitgenossen. Ausstellungskatalog und Tagungsband Katalogteil 1; 2: Werkstatt und Schüler Cranachs; 3: Süddeutsche Meister; 4: Albrecht Dürer und sein Kreis; 5: Rheinische Meister
Place of PublicationRegensburg
Year of Publication1998
Pages229-240
Grimm 1998 68
AuthorClaus Grimm
TitleDie Anteile von Meister und Werkstatt. Zum Fall Lucas Cranach d.Ä.
Publicationin Ingo Sandner, Wartburg-Stiftung Eisenach and Fachhochschule Köln, eds., Unsichtbare Meisterzeichnungen auf dem Malgrund. Cranach und seine Zeitgenossen, Exhib. Cat. Eisenach
Place of PublicationRegensburg
Year of Publication1998
Pages67-82
Heydenreich 1998 A 188
AuthorGunnar Heydenreich
TitleHerstellung, Grundierung und Rahmung der Holzbildträger in den Werkstätten Lucas Cranachs d.Ä.
Publicationin Ingo Sandner, Wartburg-Stiftung Eisenach and Fachhochschule Köln, eds., Unsichtbare Meisterzeichnungen auf dem Malgrund. Cranach und seine Zeitgenossen, Exhib. Cat. Eisenach
Place of PublicationRegensburg
Year of Publication1998
Pages181-200
Cat. Kassel 1997 53-58
AuthorAnja Schneckenburger-Broschek
EditorStaatliche Museen Kassel
TitleAltdeutsche Malerei. Die Tafelbilder und Altäre des 14. bis 16. Jahrhunderts in der Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister und im Hessischen Landesmuseum Kassel. Bestandskatalog staatliche Museen Kassel
Place of PublicationMunich
Year of Publication1997
Cat. Kassel 1996 87 p. 96
EditorBernhard Schnackenburg
TitleGesamtkatalog Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister. Staatliche Museen Kassel
Place of PublicationMainz
Year of Publication1996
Erichsen 1994 A 151, 156
AuthorJohannes Erichsen
TitleAltäre Lucas Cranachs und seiner Werkstatt vor der Reformation
Publicationin Claus Grimm, Johannes Erichsen, Evamaria Brockhof, eds., Lucas Cranach. Ein Maler-Unternehmen aus Franken, Exhibit. Cat. Kronach 1994
SeriesVeröffentlichungen zur bayerischen Geschichte und Kultur
Volume26/94
Place of PublicationAugsburg, Regensburg
Year of Publication1994
Pages150-165
Exhib. Cat. Kronach 1994 315, 371 134 Fig. 134
EditorClaus Grimm, Johannes Erichsen, Evamaria Brockhoff
TitleLucas Cranach. Ein Maler-Unternehmer aus Franken [Festung Rosenberg, Kronach 17.05 - 21.08.1994; Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig 07.09 - 06.11.1994]
SeriesVeröffentlichungen zur bayerischen Geschichte und Kultur
Volume26
Place of PublicationAugsburg, Coburg
Year of Publication1994
Cat. Kassel 1982 15, 61, 62 p. 82
AuthorAnja Schneckenburger-Broschek
TitleDie Altdeutsche Malerei. Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel
Place of PublicationKassel
Year of Publication1982
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979 017
AuthorMax J. Friedländer, Jakob Rosenberg
EditorG. Schwartz
TitleDie Gemälde von Lucas Cranach
Place of PublicationBasel, Boston, Stuttgart
Year of Publication1979
Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974/1976 409, 452-453, 552, 555, 683 No. 294 Pl. 25
AuthorDieter Koepplin, Tilman Falk
TitleLukas Cranach. Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Druckgraphik
Volume1, 2
Place of PublicationBasel, Stuttgart
Year of Publication1974
Link http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-diglit-104522
Koepplin 1974 A 25, 26 I
AuthorDieter Koepplin
TitleZwei Fürstenbildnisse Cranachs von 1509
JournalPantheon
Issue32
Year of Publication1974
Pages25-34
Schade 1974 85
AuthorWerner Schade
TitleDie Malerfamilie Cranach
Place of PublicationDresden
Year of Publication1974
Link http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/schade1974
Cat. Kassel 1969 11
AuthorE. Herzog
TitleDie Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Kassel
Place of PublicationHanau
Year of Publication1969
Koepplin 1966 83
AuthorDieter Koepplin
TitleLucas Cranachs Heirat und das Geburtsjahr des Sohnes Hans
JournalZeitschrift des deutschen Vereins für Kunstwissenschaft
Issue20
Year of Publication1966
Pages79-84
Cat. Kassel 1958 47 11
AuthorHeinrich Vogel
TitleKatalog der Staatlichen Gemäldegalerie zu Kassel
Place of PublicationKassel
Year of Publication1958
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 1937 16 012 Pl. 19
EditorStaatliche Museen, Berlin
TitleLucas Cranach d. Ä. und Lucas Cranach d. J. Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Graphik
Place of PublicationBerlin
Year of Publication1937
Exhib. Cat. Marburg 1932 130-131 150
EditorHermann Deckert, Robert Freyhan, Kurt Steinbart
TitleReligiöse Kunst aus Hessen und Nassau. Kritischer Gesamtkatalog der Ausstellung Marburg 1928
Place of PublicationMarburg
Year of Publication1932
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1932 017
AuthorMax J. Friedländer, Jakob Rosenberg
TitleDie Gemälde von Lucas Cranach
Place of PublicationBerlin
Year of Publication1932
Link http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/friedlaender1932
Cat. Kassel 1929 18, 99 11
AuthorK. Luhmer
TitleKatalog der staatlichen Gemäldegalerie zu Kassel
Place of PublicationBerlin
Year of Publication1929
Glaser 1923 75-76
AuthorCurt Glaser
TitleLukas Cranach
Place of PublicationLeipzig
Year of Publication1923
Link http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/glaser1923
Cat. Kassel 1913
AuthorG. Gronau
TitleKatalog der Königlichen Gemäldegalerie zu Cassel. Amtliche Ausgabe
Place of PublicationBerlin
Year of Publication1913
Swarzenski 1907 50
AuthorGeorg Swarzenski
TitleCranachs Altarbild von 1509 im Städelschen Kunstinstitut zu Frankfurt/M
JournalMünchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst
Issue2
Year of Publication1907
Pages49-65
Eisenmann 1904 306
AuthorOskar Eisenmann
TitleÜber einige Bildnisse Philipps und die Beziehungen seiner Eltern zu Lucas Cranach
JournalHessenland. Zeitschrift für hessische Geschichte und Literatur
Issue18
Year of Publication1904
Pages305-306
Schmidt 1904 454-456
AuthorWilhelm Schmidt
TitleAltärchen von L. Cranach d. Ae.
JournalZeitschrift für bildende Kunst. Kunstchronik
IssueN.F. 15=39.1904
Year of Publication1904
Link http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/kunstchronik1904/0235
Pages454-455

Description/ Interpretation/ Comments

Landgrave Wilhelm II. von Hessen (1468-1509), who was brought up in the court of Duke Eberhards von Württemberg and later became a follower and faithful ally of Emperor Maximilian, was temporarily one of the most powerful rulers in the empire: after the death of his cousin, Wilhelm III (1500), he united Upper Hessen, including the county (Grafschaft) of Katzenelnbogen, with Lower Hessen, the counties Ziegenhain, Nidda, Umstadt; Otzberg and Homburg were also under his rule. As far as domestic policy was concerned he was one of the last landgraves from Hessen to strive for a monastic reform. From his marriage in1500 with Anna von Mecklenburg he had two children: Elizabeth, later the wife of Elector Johann of Saxony, and Philipp (I., Magnanimous). In 1506 the landgrave became ill with syphilis and died on the 11th of July 1509 in his palace in Kassel. During his last three years he conducted an ongoing correspondence with Elector Friedrich the Wise from Saxony. It is probably through him that the contact to Lucas Cranach came about. Wilhelm II. may have commissioned the altarpiece while still alive as his death was anticipated from the outbreak of the disease. However according to Bernhard Schneckenburg it was probably not created until after his death and can therefore be viewed as an epitaph-altar. In this case it would have been commissioned by Anna von Mecklenburg, who reinforced her alliance to the Hessen House with the altarpiece. It represents the first verifiable commission for the court painter from another dynasty.

According to the Gospels of Mark (16, 1-6) and Luke (24, 1-6) Mary Magdalene, Mary of Clopas and Mary Salome went early on Sunday morning to Christ’s tomb with spices and ointments. However when they arrived there the tomb was empty and they learnt that Christ had risen.

[Cat. Kassel 1997, 54]

The style of the triptych in Kassel is close to that of the so-called Torgau Princes Altar (also known as the Altarpiece of the Holy Kindred or Anna Altar) (Frankfurt a. M., Städelsches Kunstinstitut; dated 1509), which according to [Friedländer, Rosenberg 1932] was commissioned in 1505. Both altarpieces are characterized by a clear and simple composition that is orientated around the middle axis but apparently avoids symmetry. Just as the figure of Christ opposite Sts Barbara and Catharine is positioned slightly further within the pictorial space, the same is true of the group with Mary and Anna opposite Mary of Clopas and Mary Salome on the wing panels. The spatial rhythm of the central panels can also be compared with regards the opening of the pictorial space into the background – also the landscape on the painting in Kassel and the back wall of the chamber of the painting in Frankfurt can be compared. The posture of the watchman sleeping in the foreground on the left, who supports his head in his hands, is similar to the sleeping Joseph to the left of the central group. In addition the landscape on the Resurrection Altar is similar to that on the right wing of the Anna Altar with respect to the wafting wisps of cloud and bare branches stretching into the sky.

The balanced composition of the Resurrection Altar suggests points of contact with the Italian Renaissance, which were indirectly conveyed to Cranach through netherlandish painting (Quentin Massys). Furthermore he used an engraving by Jacopo de Barbari as a prototype for the figure of the risen Christ. The motif of the closed rock tomb is a feature of netherlandish painting, for example it was already present in works by Gerard David. The Resurrection Altar is attributed to Lucas Cranach the Elder. [Friedländer, Rosenberg 1932] summed it up as 'the stiff folds in Christ’s robe, the weak hands among others give rise to doubts on the authorship. However due to its early date of production they neither attributed it to the workshop nor did they consider its participation. But according to records Cranach employed assistants as early as 1507. The involvement of assistants in the production of the domestic altar in Kassel can therefore not be excluded. On the one hand the infrared reflectogram of the central panel reveals a lively underdrawing, showing an in part dotted, in part curvy ductus, which appears to be autograph and is for example very similar to the 'Crowning of Thorns' (Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar, about 1515/20). Glaser highlighted the resonance of 'leonardesque' design in the figure of the risen Christ. The hand raised in an attitude of blessing is accurately outlined, and the modelling of the torso is particularly subtle. The landscape also distinguishes itself in the upper layers with a richly nuanced painterly quality and a subtle representation of light and movement. On the other hand a comparison with the so-called Torgau Princes Altar confirms the weaknesses observed by Friedländer/Rosenberg. The hands of St Barbara, the watchman in the foreground on the left or the left hand of Christ lack articulation. They remain stiff and flat with fingers that only bend in parallel instead of gripping. In contrast on the so-called Torgau Princes Altar particular attention is paid to the hands and the shape of the fingers. The arrangement of the folds in St Barbara’s dress lack both volume and comprehensive sweeping lines in comparison with the cloak of St Alphaeus on the left wing panel of the Anna Altar. It is therefore conceivable that an assistant was involved in the execution of these details, more so if the triptych was produced about 1509. It was precisely in the year 1509 that work in the Cranach workshop increased. In addition to the large Princes Altar, the Venus and Cupid (Leningrad, Staatliche Eremitage), the Portrait of Dr. Christoph Scheurl (Private collection) and Georg Spalatin (1933, Berlin, collection of Baronin v. Lipperheide) were produced. As well as these a plethora of large woodcuts were executed in the year 1509, among others three tournament representations with many figures, fourteen sheets illustrating the Passion of Christ, and the woodcut illustrations for the Wittenberg Heiligtumsbuch - a labour-intensive climax within Cranach’s graphic work. Nevertheless the characteristic quality of an autographed execution prevails in the Kassel Resurrection Altar.

[Cat. Kassel 1997, 56-58]

The depiction of the figure of Christ shows that Cranach had studied works by Jacopo de’Barbari, who from 1503 to 1505 had been his predecessor as court painter in Wittenberg. In particular an engraving of the Risen Christ created in 1503/1504 can be cited within this context. [1] In comparison with the work by de’Barbari Cranach’s figure appears somewhat squat and the victory banner is held closer to the body. However the infrared reflectogram shows that the appearance and position of the staff were initially closer to that depicted by de’ Barbari. Later Cranach chose to decorate the glass staff with rings and to position it closer to Christ’s body. A drawing in Erlangen created for the Wittenberg Book of relics (Heiltumsbuch) might record an intermediate stage. [2]

These observations show how closely linked Cranach’s altar for Kassel was with his production for Friedrich the Wise of Saxony in Wittenberg and begs the question whether the work could have been a gift from the elector to his ailing friend, the landgrave Wilhelm II, intended to offer solace and hope of resurrection. [3] It is also conceivable that it was a gift from the Wittenberg court to his widow Anna of Mecklenburg. However when one considers the dispute between Friedrich the Wise of Saxony and landgravine Anna immediately following Wilhelm’s death with regards the guardianship of the five year old Philipp it does not seem very likely. Nor is a commission from the Hessian court likely as since the outbreak of his illness Wilhelm had lived in almost complete isolation. [4] Besides the Hessian coat-of-arms has been inverted. This could be due to a desired symmetrical arrangement; however the Mecklenburg coat-of-arms is shown the right way around. The difficultly of reproducing it correctly is illustrated by the coat-of-arms of the landgrave Philipp the Magnanimous of Hessen from 1546, which was created within the context of the Schmalkaldic War and commissioned by Elector Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous of Saxony (Cat. No.109).

[1] Engraving, 182 x 91 mm, Albertina Museum Vienna, Inv. No. DG1952/434, Exhib. Cat. Coburg 2010, No. 1.2.12

[2] Lucas Cranach the Elder, Monstrance with Christ and the victory Banner, after 1505, blackish-brown ink, in part with washes, 303 x 143 mm, Erlangen, Grafische Sammlung der Universität, Inv. No. B.1319, Exhib. Cat. Coburg 2010, No. 1.2.12

[3] the degree of familiarity between the two is documented by the piquant humour in a letter written by Friedrich to Wilhelm in the year 1508. Ludolphy 2006, 37

[4] Glagau 1899, 7-9

[Lange, Exhib. Cat. Gotha, Kassel 2015, 98, 99, No. 3]

  • Portable Altarpiece belonging to Landgrave Wilhelm II. of Hesse and Anna of Mecklenburg: St Catherine [right wing], about 1508 - 1509

Images

Compare images
  • overall
  • overall
  • reverse
  • reverse

Technical studies

1997Technical examination / Scientific analysis

  • Infrared reflectography

Support

probably a single plank with the grain running vertically.

Underdrawing

No undedrawing was detected on the wing panels.

Paint Layers and Gilding

Recto: The haloes of Christ and the angels were executed with a matt application of gold leaf and the contours of the rays were outlined in black paint. A matt application of gold leaf was also used for the chalice held by St Barbara and for the saints garments. The pattern on the robes was painted over this.

Framing

- the frame is original and was pobably re-gilded in the 19th century

- in accordance with the results of a technichal examination in 1971 the fame was painted black with the exception of the inner profile.

[Cat. Kassel 1997, 53-54]

[Letter F. Lahusen to D. Koepplin dated 19 July 1973]

  • examined by Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Kassel

Condition Reports

Date1997

Fading in the paint layers and blanching of the medium has caused the shadows in the red areas of the drapery to appear lighter than they would have been originally. There is slight abrasion in Christ's hair. Otherwise the condition of the central and wing panels is vey good.

Verso: both versos are excepting minimal retouching or overpaint in very good condition.

[Cat. Kassel 1997, 53-54]

Conservation History

Date1971

Frame: original; reworked in the 19th century; hinges are original

  • the frame was restored in 1971 (cf. letter from F. Lahusen to D. Koepplin dated 19 July 1973)

  • the hinges were returned to their original position

Citing from the Cranach Digital Archive

Entry with author
<author's name>, 'Portable Altarpiece belonging to Landgrave Wilhelm II. of Hesse and Anna of Mecklenburg: St Catherine [right wing]', <title of document, data entry or image>. [<Date of document or image>], in: Cranach Digital Archive, https://lucascranach.org/en/DE_MHK_GK11c/ (Accessed {{dateAccessed}})
Entry with no author
'Portable Altarpiece belonging to Landgrave Wilhelm II. of Hesse and Anna of Mecklenburg: St Catherine [right wing]', <title of document, data entry or image>. [<Date of document, entry or image>], in: Cranach Digital Archive, https://lucascranach.org/en/DE_MHK_GK11c/ (Accessed {{dateAccessed}})

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