Cranach, Lucas (der Altere)

BORN 1472, Kronach, Bayern - DIED 16 Oct 1553, Weimar, Thüringen
BIRTH NAME Sunder of Müller
GRAVE LOCATION Weimar, Thüringen: Jakobskirchhof

Lucas Cranach der Altere (the Elder) took his name Cranach from the city where he was born, Kronach. Around 1501 he moved to Vienna, where he worked in circles of the recently founded university.

In 1504 he left Vienna for Wittenberg, where he became court painter to Frederick III, the Elector of Saxony. In Wittenberg he became a wealthy man and he was burgomaster for several years. His paintings sold well and in his studio his assistants often produced several copies of his more successful works.

He painted religious works but also portraits, among them several of Martin Luther. Although he was a supporter of the Protestant movement he continued working for Catholics as well. In his later years his son assisted him. Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515-1586) painted in exactly the same style.

In 1550 the last Elector John Frederick was taken prisoner and Wittenberg was under siege. Emperor Charles remembered Cranach from earlier years and summoned him to his camp at Pistritz, where Cranach begged for kindness towards the elector.

Cranach followed John Frederick in exile and moved to Augsburg. He spent his last time in Weimar, where he died in 1553. The house where he lived in Weimar is still there at the marketplace.

Work: "The Duke and Duchess of Saxony" (1514, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden).


The Cranach-crypt at the Jakobskirchhof in Weimar, where Lucas Cranach the Elder was buried.
Picture by Androom (04 Feb 2005)


The birth house of Lucas Cranach the Elder was demolished to build this new town hall in Kronach. At the time it was wrongly believed that Cranach was born a few hundred meters down the road.
Picture by androom (30 Aug 2006)


   (1533, Leipzig: Museum der bildende Künste)

   (1533, Leipzig: Museum der bildende Künste)

"Judith mit dem Haupt des Holofernes".
   (c1530, Wien: Kunsthistorisches Museum)

• Fischer, Manfred F., Ruhmeshalle und Bavaria, Bayerische Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser, München, 1987
Lucas Cranach the Elder - Wikipedia
WebMuseum: Cranach, Lucas the Elder

Craven, Keppel Richard

Published: 17 Jun 2006
Last update: 25 Jan 2022