Martin Luther, half-length, facing right

Martin Luther, half-length, facing right


Martin Luther, half-length, facing right

[KKL 2022]

Painting on beech wood


Painting on beech wood

[Ausst.-Kat. Düsseldorf 2017, Nr. 156, 157]

See German text version

Lucas Cranach the Elder and Workshop
Lucas Cranach the Elder


Lucas Cranach the Elder and Workshop

[KKL 2022]

Lucas Cranach the Elder

[Koepplin / Falk 1976, p. 503] [Ausst.-Kat. Düsseldorf 2017, S. 259, Nr. 156]

Production date

Production date


[dated, KKL 2022]

Dimensions of support: 18.5 x 14 cm


  • Dimensions of support: 18.5 x 14 cm

  • [Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 259, No. 156]

Signature / Dating

See German text version

Signature / Dating

  • See German text version

Inscriptions and Labels

On the reverse:
labels: 'Arnold van Heek, Oldenzaalschestraat 200, Enschede, Holland'; 'Art-Conservation Thomas Becker 12-11'
[unpublished examination report …

Inscriptions and Labels

Stamps, Seals, Labels:

  • On the reverse:

  • labels: 'Arnold van Heek, Oldenzaalschestraat 200, Enschede, Holland'; 'Art-Conservation Thomas Becker 12-11'

  • [unpublished examination report Heydenreich 2015-08]

Private Collection
Private Collection
FR (1978) Nr.
III.M14a, Part of portait group III
Persistent Link


  • possibly with Jacques Goudstikker, Amsterdam, before 1940
  • possibly with Jan Herman van Heek (1873-1957)
  • by inheritance to his brother Arnold Helmich van Heek (1882-1972), Enschede (according to a label on the reverse: 'Oldenzaalschestraat 200, Enschede')
  • with P. de Boer, Geneva
  • from whom acquired in 1975 by the family (Swiss private collection)
  • sold at Christie's, London, 05.07.2018, Sale 14772, lot 12
    [[Christie's online database, accessed 05.04.2020]]


Düsseldorf 2017, No. 156


Reference on page Catalogue Number Figure / Plate
Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017 259 No. 156
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 PublicationMunich
Year of Publication2017
Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974/1976 503-504 (Bd. II)
AuthorDieter Koepplin, Tilman Falk
TitleLukas Cranach. Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Druckgraphik
Volume1, 2
Place of PublicationBasel, Stuttgart
Year of Publication1974

Research History / Discussion

Panels very similar both in size and representation can be found in Eisenach, Güstrow and Schleswig. [Neuhoff, Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 259, No. 156]

  • Martin Luther, half-length, facing right, 1526


Compare images
  • overall
  • overall
  • overall
  • reverse
  • irr
  • x_radiograph
  • detail
  • detail
  • other

Technical studies

06. 2015Technical examination / Scientific analysis

  • Infrared reflectography
  • irr




- fluid, dark medium, brush (?)


- economic underdrawing with traced lines

- delicate, fine lines


- binding for the final painted version (where visible); the lines define the main contours and describe facial features; no representation of volume with hatching strokes


- only very minor corrections were made to forms during the painting process



- Cranach workshop

[Sandner, Heydenreich, Smith-Contini, cda 2017]

  • photographed by Ingo Sandner
  • photographed by Gunnar Heydenreich

04. 2015Technical examination / Scientific analysis

  • X-radiography
  • x_radiograph
  • created by Hans Portsteffen
  • created by Technische Hochschule Köln
  • Stereomicroscopy
  • Infrared reflectographyX-radiography
  • UV-light photography


- the panel consists of a single beech wood plank (18.5 x 14 x 0.3 cm)

- horizontal direction of grain

- the reverse has been carefully smoothed and the black appplication is probably an original coating

- the edges have been trimmed slightly at a later stage, and only the painted surface at the bottom edge was affected.

The supports [of this painting and its pendant] are Standardformat A beech wood panels. Beech wood panels of this size were used frequently in the Cranach workshop from the 1520s. The original size of this painting probably corresponded with that of the double portrait in Eisenach (DE_WSE_M0065, 22.6 x 16 cm). A narrow frame was probably glued to the originally wider exposed edges of the panel. Although the direction of the grain differs on each panel it is possible that they we conceived as a pair.

Ground and Imprimatura

- white ground

- a barbe is present along the left, top and right edges

- here the ground was partially removed with a sharp bladed tool


- an underdrawing is not readily visible in the infrared reflectograph

- isolated contour lines detected in the infrared reflectograph may have been executed during the painting process

Numerous paintings exist by Lucas Cranach or from his workshop where an underdrawing could not be detected employing infrared reflectography.

Paint Layers and Gilding

- using XRF the elements in the paint were detected and in combination with a comparison of their optical characteristics the following pigments were identified: lead white, lead-tin-yellow, iron oxide, vermilion, azurite, carbon black

- The identification of calcium suggests the use of calcium carbonate (chalk) in the ground or as fill material.

- In addition titanium, zinc and chrome were detected at various measurement points. This probably suggests the presence of retouches containing titanium white, zinc white and chrome based pigments.

- The flesh paint was applied in pale flesh tones (lead white, vermilion, iron oxide, azurite) and brown shadow tones were modulated with strokes and some dabs. The confidently drawn details like eyelashes and eyebrows were added subsequently with a fine tipped brush. Occasionally the tip has split to produce fine double lines.

- The pigments (azurite and lead white) employed for the blue background paint are finely ground. The paint exhibits an uneven brush application.

- Individual forms were painted with clear boarders and only minimal overlapping of the paint zones. There are no major changes in the composition.

The pigments identified were employed in European panel painting before 1750 and also frequently used in the Cranach workshop. The technique of application corresponds with the usual practice in the Cranach workshop. Forms and designs can be found on other works produced in the Wittenberg workshop from about 1526. Although the original quality of the execution has been compromised by the condition of the painting in areas like the eyes and the hair and Katharina von Bora's dress it corresponds with the quality observed on other works by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Split brushstrokes can also be found in the execution of the eyelashes and eyes on the double portrait in Eisenach.

[unpublished examination report, Heydenreich 2015-08]

Condition Reports

Date08. 2015 -

The panel painting depicting a portrait of Martin Luther is in a stable, but visibly damaged condition. The panel is warped. There is considerable abrasion in the paint layers, particularly in the flesh paint and in the hair as well as numerous small losses above all along the edges of the cracquelée. The retouches have discoloured and were recently corrected with a lighter paint. The whole face including the hair and the eyes appears patchy and disfigured. The blue background is also slightly abraded. Isolated retouches are visible here in the infrared reflectograph. The date and signature are also very abraded; they were covered over with blue paint in 2006.

  • examined by Gunnar Heydenreich

Conservation History


2016 conservation treatment by Bernd Pappe, Bern (surface cleaning, old retouches and overpaint reduced, losses reintegrated, varnish application)

  • conservation treatment by Bernd Pappe

Date2006 -

  • after 2006 (no treatments documented)


frame stabilised

  • conservation treatment by Thomas Becker

Date1974 -

  • conservation treatment, about 1974 (see Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974, p. 504)

Citing from the Cranach Digital Archive

Entry with author
<author's name>, 'Martin Luther, half-length, facing right', <title of document, data entry or image>. [<Date of document or image>], in: Cranach Digital Archive, (Accessed {{dateAccessed}})
Entry with no author
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