Christ Blessing the Children

Christ Blessing the Children


Christ Blessing the Children

[Cat. Leipzig 2006, 125]

Painting on wood


Painting on wood

[Cat. Leipzig 2006, 125]

The middle ground of the painting is occupied by a crowded group of women with little children who cluster round Jesus. The disciples stand on the right behind a balustrade. A view of a hilly landscape from where more women and children approach fills the space between these two groups.

The middle ground of the painting is occupied by a crowded group of women with little children who cluster round Jesus. The disciples stand on the right behind a balustrade. A view of a hilly landscape from where more women and children approach fills the space between these two groups. In the background there are rocky and in part wooded mountains with castles, at the foot of the second mountain there is a fortified town.

The family to which the epitaph is dedicated kneel in the foreground. They are separated from the religious figures by a dark revetted balustrade, which is only interupted at one point: Jesus stands here and thus transcends the division of the bibical act and 16th century mankind.

[Ulrike Dura, Cat. Leipzig 2006, 125]

Follower of Lucas Cranach the Younger


Follower of Lucas Cranach the Younger

[Cat. Leipzig 2006, 125]

Production date
after 1551

Production date

after 1551

[Cat. Leipzig 2006, 125]

Dimensions of support: 124 x 171 cm


  • Dimensions of support: 124 x 171 cm

  • [Cat. Leipzig 2006, 125]

Signature / Dating


Inscriptions and Labels
  • top text block: 'Zu der Zeit brachten sie kindlin zu Jhesu, das ehr sie solt anriren aber die junger …

Inscriptions and Labels

Inscriptions, Badges:

    • top text block:
  • 'Zu der Zeit brachten sie kindlin zu Jhesu, das ehr sie solt anriren aber die junger be

  • draueten die so sie brachten. Do das Jhesus sahe vordros in und sprach zu in: last die

  • kindlin zu mir kummen und weret in nicht den solcher ist das himmelreich warlich

  • ich sage euch wer nicht das reich gottes nimpt wie ein kindlin der wirt nicht

  • hinein kummen und er hertzet sie und leget die hende auf sie und segenet sie.'

    • bottom text block:
  • 'Ess ist in gott vorscheide[n] der

  • erbar hans nopel. Auff 29. April des

    1. jars. got gebe ime und uns
  • allen eine frülige aufferstehung.'

    • bottom left above the two children wearing shrouds:
  • 'hans nopel seines alters 8 tag'

  • '[...] seines alters 14 tag'

  • 'gerhart nopel seines alters 2 tag'

    • to the right of Christ above and between the kneeling girls:
  • 'Welcher ist umb unser sunde willen dahin

  • gegeben und umb unser gerechtigkeit

  • willen aufferwecket. Roma. 4.'

    • bottom right, beneath the child wearing a shroud Unter dem Kind im Totenhemd:
  • 'Anna nopel ires alters 5 tag'

  • [Cat. Leipzig 2006, 125]

Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, Leipzig
Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, Leipzig
FR (1978) Nr.
Persistent Link


After 1870 the Epitaph was rediscovered cut up into single pieces [...] the pieces served as a curb for the steps to the organ loft in the old Johanniskirche.

[Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig, 2012]


Reference on page Catalogue Number Figure / Plate
Exhib. Cat. Gotha, Kassel 2015 202
EditorJulia Carrasco, Justus Lange, Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha, Benjamin D. Spira, Timo Trümper
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
Cat. Leipzig 2006 125-126
AuthorVolker Rodekamp
TitleLeipzig original: Stadtgeschichte vom Mittelalter bis zur Völkerschlacht. Katalog zur Dauerausstellung des Stadtgeschichtlichen Museums Leipzig im Alten Rathaus. Teil I
Place of PublicationAltenburg
Year of Publication2006
Magirius et al. 1995 840
AuthorHeinrich Magirius, Hartmut Mai, Thomas Trajkovits, Winfried Werner
EditorLandesamt für Denkmalpflege Sachsen
TitleDie Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler von Sachsen. Stadt Leipzig. Die Sakralbauten I. Mit einem Überblick über die städtebauliche Entwicklung von den Anfängen bis 1989
Place of PublicationMunich, Berlin
Year of Publication1995
Kramm 1981 162-163
AuthorHeinrich Kramm
TitleStudien über die Oberschichten der mitteldeutschen Städte im 16. Jahrhundert
Place of PublicationCologne, Vienna
Year of Publication1981
Fischer 1978 263
AuthorGerhard Fischer
TitleAus zwei Jahrhunderten Lepziger Handelsgeschichte 1470-1650
Place of PublicationLeipzig
Year of Publication1978
Gurlitt 1895 160-161
AuthorCornelius Gurlitt
TitleBeschreibende Darstellung der Kunstdenkmäler des Königreichs Sachsen. Stadt Leipzig
Place of PublicationDresden
Year of Publication1895
Stepner 1675 869
AuthorSalomon M. Stepner
TitleInscriptiones Lipsienses. Das ist Verzeichnis allerhand denkwürdiger Überschriften, Grab- und Gedächtnismahle in Leipzig
Place of PublicationLeipzig
Year of Publication1675

Research History / Discussion

The epitaph from the old Johanniskirche is dedicated to the memory of Hans Nopel and his family, as is proved without doubt by the inscriptions. It depicts the biblical scene of the blessing the children by Christ, who lets the children come to him after his disciples wanted to send them away for being disturbing and unintelligible: ‘Let the children come to me, and do not stop them’ (Mark 10.14).


The depicted family consists of two women with black bands, three older girls, three small children dressed in white and the father of the family wearing a coat with a fur collar. The inscription on a gold ground at the bottom is dedicated to him. It refers to Hans Nopel, who together with his brother Barthel was involved in the silk trade, and was in addition from 1548 a council member and owner of property in Kathatinenstraße. Nopel died in 1551. He was the descendant of an immigrant grocer who came from Halle in the 15th century, the family repeatedly allocated council members and judges.

In addition the three children are also denoted with their names and age of death in inscriptions, a forth deceased infant is mentioned, the inscriptions for the older girls and the women are missing. Stepner records another inscription for the wife, Margarethe, who died in 1560, and for an 11 year old son, Hans. These inscriptions may have been placed outside the picture. According to written sources Hans Nopel was only married once, his wife’s maiden name was Brandmüller. There were a lot of children from this marriage, some who died very young, and others who greatly outlived their parents. The second woman with a black band is probably one of the older daughters who was already married when the epitaph was created. The inclusion of the children who died only a few days after their birth is exceptional. The context of the painting’s subject ‘Christ blessing the Children’ is obvious. Such an obvious connection between the subject and the life experience of the sitters is rare in epitaph art. It reflects the increased appreciation within Lutheranism of the family, which had been revalued as the refuge for correct instruction in the faith. The children, despite their untimely death, belonged to the family and are included in the commemoration of the dead.

After all it was through Lucas Cranach that the subject of ‘Christ Blessing the Children’ became an important motif in ecclesiastical art. It corroborates the importance of the baptism of children for the Lutheran faith as a confession of faith by the parents to and within the parish, but also as resistance against the movement making a case for adult baptism (Anabaptists). While Cranach the Elder developed a composition of half-length figures, the scene with full-length figures set against a landscape like the Nopel-Epitaph can be attributed to Lucas Cranach the Younger.

Like with the painting ‚The Sacrifice of Elijah‘ (Inv. No. Kirchliche Kunst No. 14) this is an example of how Cranach transposed what was felt to be a ‚typical‘ Lutheran pictorial invention to the medium of the epitaph. The confessional character of the subject choice is increased by the relatedness of the subject with the personal fate of the family to whose memory it was dedicated.

The date of its creation shortly after 1551 makes it unlikely that it was originally intended for the Johanniskirche. This was heavily damaged in 1547 during the siege of Leipzig and only rebuilt in 1582-84. When the painting was created in the 1550s the church was unusable. In 1870 the Leipzig Historical Society (Geschichtsverein) rescued the painting from the church, cut into pieces it had been used as curbing for the steps to the church organ loft.

[Ulrike Dura, Cat. Leipzig 2006, 125-126]

  • Christ Blessing the Children, after 1551


Compare images
  • overall

Technical studies

1997Technical examination / Scientific analysis

  • Infrared refectography


An examination of the panel provided clear evidence that the figure kneeling behind Balthasar Hoffmann was a later addition as there was a third small child beneath. The external figure on the left also appears to have been added. The group of women on the right also appear to have been modified: the two maidens were probably added later, however it is not possible to establish, which of the deceased wives (denoted by the band over their mouths) was added. The arrangement of the coats-of-arms indicates that initially only the two tilted symetrically towards each other - the traditional composition for a combined married coat-of-arms - were present, that of Balthasar Hoffmann on the left and beside it that of the family Wiedemann belonging to his second wife Magdalena Wiedmann.

[Susanne Heiland, Exhib. Cat. Leipzig 1997, 90]

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