Portrait of Martin Luther

Portrait of Martin Luther

Title

Portrait of Martin Luther

[Cat. Schwerin 1990, 21]

Painting on wood

Medium

Painting on wood

[Cat. Schwerin 1990, 22]

First life-size and full-length representation of the reformer wearing the gown of a protestant minister. The bulkly figure is given monumentality by a framing niche. However at the same time its lack of depth binds the figure to the surface. The feet that are bent downwards also appear completely flat.

First life-size and full-length representation of the reformer wearing the gown of a protestant minister. The bulkly figure is given monumentality by a framing niche. However at the same time its lack of depth binds the figure to the surface. The feet that are bent downwards also appear completely flat. The decorative function wins over the static one.

[Cat. Schwerin 1990, 22]

Attribution
Lucas Cranach the Younger

Attribution

Lucas Cranach the Younger

[Cat. Schwerin 1990, 21]

Production date
1546

Production date

1546

[dated]

Dimensions
Dimensions of support: 224 x 112 cm

Dimensions

  • Dimensions of support: 224 x 112 cm

  • [Cat. Schwerin 1990, 22]

Signature / Dating
Artist's insigna at bottom left: winged serpent and dated '1546'

Signature / Dating

  • Artist's insigna at bottom left: winged serpent and dated '1546'

  • [Cat. Schwerin 1990, 22]

Inscriptions and Labels
- on the arch of the niche: 'AETATIS SVAE LXIII'

Inscriptions and Labels

Inscriptions, Badges:

  • - on the arch of the niche:
  • 'AETATIS SVAE LXIII'
  • [Cat. Schwerin 1990, 22]
Owner
Staatliches Museum Schwerin, Kunstsammlungen Schlösser, Gärten
Repository
Staatliches Museum Schwerin, Museum Schloss Güstrow
Location
Güstrow
CDA ID
DE_SMS_G864
FR (1978) Nr.
FR423G
Persistent Link
https://lucascranach.org/en/DE_SMS_G864/

Provenance

  • the panel is recorded in the Schwerin Palace Chapel (Schweriner Schlosskirche) in the year 1736 'Doctor Luthern in Lebens Größe vorstellend mit schwartzen Rahm und verguldeten Zierathen (Dr. Luther life-size, in a black frame with a gilded edge).'
    In 1592 it was possibly in the large dining hall in the long house. The inventory of the Schwerin Palace (on the occasion of Duke Ulrich's acceptance of the guardianship of his brother's grandson) mentions two framed portraits on the walls of this room: the double portrait of Duke Johann Albrecht with Anna Sophia (No. 33) and 'D. Martin Luther sehlig'. However the painting is not mentioned in the inventory of 1576 in either the chapel or the long house.
  • acquired between 1845 and 1863 from the old Schwerin Palace

[Cat. Schwerin 1990, 22]

Literature

Reference on page Catalogue Number Figure / Plate
Cat. Coburg 2018 183, fn. 4, 187 under no. 41 Fig. 3, p. 187
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
Cat. Schwerin 1990 21-22 013
AuthorKristina Hegner
TitleKunst der Renaissance
Place of PublicationSchwerin
Year of Publication1990
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979 No. 423G
AuthorMax J. Friedländer, Jakob Rosenberg
EditorG. Schwartz
TitleDie Gemälde von Lucas Cranach
Place of PublicationBasel, Boston, Stuttgart
Year of Publication1979
Schade 1974 Fn. 372, 772
AuthorWerner Schade
TitleDie Malerfamilie Cranach
Place of PublicationDresden
Year of Publication1974
Link http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/schade1974
Lilienfein 1942 59 Fig. 70
AuthorHeinrich Lilienfein
TitleLukas Cranach und seine Zeit
Place of PublicationBielefeld
Year of Publication1942
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1932 under No. 340
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
Holst 1930 9, 42, 54
AuthorNiels von Holst
TitleDie deutsche Bildnismalerei zur Zeit des Manierismus
SeriesStudien zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte
Volume273
Place of PublicationStrasbourg
Year of Publication1930
Bode 1891 165
AuthorWilhelm Bode
TitleDie Grossherzogliche Gemälde-Galerie zu Schwerin
Place of PublicationVienna
Year of Publication1891
Cat. Schwerin 1882 No. 169
AuthorFriedrich Schlie
TitleBeschriebendes Verzeichniss der Werke älterer Meister in Grossherzoglichen Gemälde-Gallerie zu Schwerin
Place of PublicationSchwerin
Year of Publication1882
Schlie 1882 23
AuthorFriedrich Schlie
TitleKurzes Verzeichniss der Bilder in der Grossherzoglichen Gemälde-Gallerie zu Schwerin
Place of PublicationSchwerin
Year of Publication1882
Schlie 1883 18
AuthorFriedrich Schlie
TitleKurzes Verzeichniss der Bilder in der Grossherzoglichen Gemälde-Gallerie zu Schwerin
Place of PublicationSchwerin
IssueSecond edition
Year of Publication1882
Prosch 1863 40 (III)
AuthorEduard Prosch
TitleCatalog und Inventarium der Grossherzoglichen Gemälde-Gallerie und der Grossherzoglichen Sammlung plastischer Kunstwerke in Schwerin
Year of Publication1863

Research History / Discussion

The panel was probably created after Luther's death (18.2.1546) and can be associated with a woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Younger, which appeared in the same year and includes biographical dates and a text from 1540. In comparison with the woodcut the sleeves and position of the hand have been simplified and the body exhibits a more decisive turn. In 1575 Cranach was commissioned by Elector August of Saxony to paint another full-length figure of Luther (also without marbling effect) for the Castle of Annaburg (Schloss Annaburg) (Kunstsammlung der Veste Coburg), which shows the reformer facing to the right. […]

The painting in Schwerin has been conclusively attributed to Lucas Cranach the Younger since Friedländer, Rosenberg (1932) […]

However the portrait of Luther may have arrived in Mecklenburg while Duke Heinrich the Peaceful was still alive. He was partisan towards the reformation at an early stage. He was related by marriage to Johann the Steadfast and as such was Elector Johann Friedrich of Saxony's uncle. But Johann Albrecht I. of Mecklenburg, Heinrich's nephew, also ordered portraits of Luther and Melanchton from Cranach in 1555 - probably half-length figures.

A copy of the painting in Schwerin was created for the church in Rehna in the second half of the 19th century (Schlie II, 442, Fig. p. 435). Further full-length figures of Luther, like that in the village Mecklenburg or in the Schelfkirche in Schwerin (now in the cathedral) appear to borrow from the woodcut.

[Cat. Schwerin 1990, 22]

  • Portrait of Martin Luther, 1546

Images

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Technical studies

07. 2013Technical examination / Scientific analysis

  • Infrared reflectography
  • irr

Underdrawing

DESCRIPTION

Tools/Materials:

- dry drawing material, dark chalk

Type/Ductus:

- copied lines?

- delicate, fine lines

Function:

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

Deviations:

- minor alterations made during the painting process to clearly define form

INTERPRETATION

Attribution:

- not possible

Comments:

- probably after a pre-existing design or transferred from a template

[Smith, Sandner, Heydenreich, cda 2013]

  • photographed by Gunnar Heydenreich
  • photographed by Ingo Sandner

Condition Reports

Date1990

The panel is constructed out of a number of planks and cradled. Flaking in the paint layers particularly along the joins.

[Cat. Schwerin 1990, 22]

Conservation History

Date1908

First restored in 1908. Later constantly in need of treatment. [...]

The present marbling is the result of the restoration campaign in 1908.

[Cat. Schwerin 1990, 22]

Citing from the Cranach Digital Archive

Entry with author
<author's name>, 'Portrait of Martin Luther', <title of document, data entry or image>. [<Date of document or image>], in: Cranach Digital Archive, https://lucascranach.org/en/DE_SMS_G864/ (Accessed {{dateAccessed}})
Entry with no author
'Portrait of Martin Luther', <title of document, data entry or image>. [<Date of document, entry or image>], in: Cranach Digital Archive, https://lucascranach.org/en/DE_SMS_G864/ (Accessed {{dateAccessed}})

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