Lucas CRANACH THE YOUNGER, Christ as the Man of Sorrows


(Wittenberg, 1515 - 1586)

Christ as the Man of Sorrows

Oil on panel, 87.5 x 60.6 cm

Signed lower left with the artist’s device of a winged serpent


Single panels depicting Christ as the man of sorrows became popular in the Cranach workshop after 1537 and indeed the only example of either Cranach producing such an image prior to that date is on the reverse of a wing of an altarpiece by the elder Cranach in 1520 (Berlin, Bode Museum). The best known treatment of the theme in Dresden was dated by Friedländer and Rosenberg to circa 1540 and the present lot is likely to have been executed shortly afterwards, at a time when the younger Cranach had taken over the running of the workshop; a view supported by the form of the signature lower left. As Friedländer and Rosenberg proposed, and as the vast majority of subsequent scholars agree, it is likely that it was the younger Cranach who introduced this particularly Protestant theme to the Cranach family repertoire and who continued to develop it thereafter. Cranach’s various versions of the subject differ from each other principally in the position of Christ’s hands and the tilt of His head (notwithstanding the subsidiary putti or figures in some versions). The present design, in which Christ raises his hand humbly to his chest, appears to be unique, at least amongst the autograph versions. In all other versions his hands and arms are crossed, either down by his waist or across his torso. The head of Christ is painted with exquisite attention to detail


Art market, Munich, 1959;

Art market, Cologne;

Art market, Paris;

Important private collection, Zürich, Switzerland


M.J. Friedländer & J. Rosenberg, The Paintings of Lucas Cranach, London 1978, p. 89, no. 99, reproduced

Friedländer & Rosenberg, op. cit., p. 146, no. 382, reproduced

Ibid., p. 146, nos. 381 and 383 respectively, both reproduced


The Exhibition “Art Rules” organized by Art-Life Project in Tallinn Town Hall, 5 June 2015 – 5 October 2015, Estonia

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