[This panel] depicts Saint Genevieve and Saint Apollonia. Saint Genevieve (422-512) was the patron saint of Paris and protector of the Parisians during the invasions of the Huns and Franks. She holds the candle that miraculously relit after being extinguished by the devil, when she was praying alone in church
[This panel] depicts Saint Genevieve and Saint Apollonia. Saint Genevieve (422-512) was the patron saint of Paris and protector of the Parisians during the invasions of the Huns and Franks. She holds the candle that miraculously relit after being extinguished by the devil, when she was praying alone in church at night. Her pendant may be intended to represent the Greek letters for alpha and omega, the beginning and end of the Greek alphabet, symbolising God or Christ. Her skirt is a rich green, with bands of gold damask, and is worn over a purple underskirt. Her gold bodice bears the letters GSE and is worn over a white shirt with red lacing on the sleeves and a red frontlet with black lacing; her lower left-hand sleeve is of gold damask while her lower right-hand sleeve is a grey textile striped with red. She wears a gold chain around her shoulders and a narrower gold chain with a pendant looped once around her neck. Her brown hair is bound in plaits, one of which can be seen curling around the back of her right arm, and she wears a narrow black headband. Saint Apollonia of Alexandria (died 249) holds a pair of pincers (also represented on the pendant of her necklace); her teeth were extracted during her martyrdom. She wears a bright red dress with a semi-transparent black chequered shawl around her shoulders. Her fair hair falls in curls over her shoulders.
The two National Gallery panels once formed the outer faces of the shutters of Cranach's 'The St Catherine Altarpiece', signed and dated 1506. The central panel showing the martyrdom of the saint and the inner faces of the shutters are in the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden. Two copies of the altarpiece were made in 1586 and 1596 by Daniel Fritsch of Torgau. The altarpiece was evidently brought to Dresden from Torgau in 1736, but by 1786 the fronts and reverses of the shutters had been separated (see Provenance). The inner shutters depict Saints Dorothy, Agnes and Cunigunde, and Saints Barbara, Ursula and Margaret; there has been some debate concerning which shutter was originally fixed to the left of the centre panel and which to the right.
[Susan Foister, 'Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop, Saints Genevieve and Apollonia and Saints Christina and Ottilia (The St Catherine Altarpiece: Reverses of Shutters)' published online 2015, from 'The German Paintings before 1800', London: forthcoming.
- Lucas Cranach the Elder
Lucas Cranach the Elder
[The National Gallery, revised 2011]
- Production date
[central panel dated]
- Dimensions of support: 122.7 (l.e) - 123 (r.e.) x 66.3 (top) - 66 (bottom) cm
Dimensions of support: 122.7 (l.e) - 123 (r.e.) x 66.3 (top) - 66 (bottom) cm
Dimensions of painted surface: 122.7 (l.e.) - 123 (r.e.) x 64.3 cm
[National Gallery archive 2013]
- Signature / Dating
- The National Gallery, London
- The National Gallery, London
- CDA ID
- FR (1978) Nr.
- Persistent Link