Lucas Cranach the Elder
German, 1472 (?)-1553
The Crucifixion, 1538
Oil on panel
47 3/4 x 32 1/2 in. (121.1 x 82.5 cm); painted surface: 47 x 32 1/2 in. (119.4 x 82.5 cm)
Inscribed: device of serpent with lowered wings and 153 (on cross)
Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection, 1947.62
In this crowded scene, traditional vignettes from the Crucifixion story surround the central figure of Christ on the cross. The swooning Virgins and other believers are represented at Christ's right hand. On the other, less-favored side of the cross are Christ's condemners and the cynics who rejected him, among them the soldiers who cast dice to divide up his clothing. Although Lucas Cranach the Elder was a friend of Martin Luther and a firm supporter of the Reformation, his highly successful workshop produced altarpieces for both Protestant and Catholic patrons. In this painting, probably used as an altarpiece, the artist does not take a stand in the doctrinal struggle that grew out of Luther's preaching and writing beginning in 1517.
New York, Kleinberger, Loan Exhibition of German Primitives for the Benefit of the American Red Cross, 1928, no. 28.
Art Institute of Chicago, Loan Exhibition of Old Masters, 1928–29 (no cat.).
New York, Van Die-men Galleries, Exhibition of Paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553), 1929, no. 12.
Renaissance Society, University of Chi-cago, Loan Exhibition of Religious Art from the Fourth Century to the Present Time, 1930, no. 34.
Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, 1933, no. 13.
Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, 1934, no. 11.
Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpieces of Religious Art, 1954, pp. 22–23.
Harry Adsit Bull, Jr., “Seen in the Galleries,” International Studio 91, 379 (1928), pp. 65 (ill.), 78.
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Frank E. Washburn Freund, “Ausstellung altdeutscher Malerei in den F. Kleinberger Galleries zu New York,” Belvedere 8 (1929), p. 285.
The Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection, 1932, p. 191.
Max J. Friedländer and Jakob Rosenberg, Die Gemälde von Lucas Cranach, Berlin, 1932,, p. 85, no. 302, fig. 302; rev. Eng. ed., 1978, pp. 144–45, no. 377, fig. 377.
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Colin Eisler, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian, Oxford, 1977, pp. 24–25. Morse 1979, p. 84.
Laurinda S. Dixon, “The Crucifixion by Lucas Cranach the Elder: A Study in Lutheran Reform Iconography,” Perceptions: An Annual Publica-tion of the Indianapolis Museum of Art 1 (1981), pp. 36, 42, fig. 6.
Albert G. Hess, “Pictorial Representations as Sources for Histori-cal Criminology,” Criminal Justice History 2 (1981), pp. 65–70, fig. 1.
D[ieter] K[oepplin], in Martin Luther und die Reformation in Deutschland: Ausstellung zum 500. Geburtstag Martin Luthers, exh. cat., Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, 1983, p. 372, under no. 494.
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Heinrich Magirius, “Der Cranachaltar in der St. Wolf-gangskirche zu Schneeberg: 1, Geschichte des Cranachsaltar,” Zeitschrift für Kunsttechnologie und Konservierung 6 (1992), pp. 299–300.
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Mitchell B. Merback, The Thief, the Cross, and the Wheel: Pain and the Spectacle of Punishment in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Chicago, 1998, pp. 292–95, figs. 104, 115.
Mitchell B. Merback, “Torture and Teaching: The Reception of Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Martyrdom of the Twelve Apostles in the Protestant Era,” Art Journal 57 (1998), pp. 21–22, fig. 7.
Martha Wolff in Martha Wolff et al., Northern European and Spanish Paintings before 1600 in the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2008, pp. 353-58, ill.
Sir Fairfax Cartright (d. 1928), Aynho Park, Banbury [according to letter from Robert Langton Douglas to Charles Worces-ter, Nov. 25, 1928, in curatorial file]. Julius Böhler, Munich, 1928 [according to receipt and other records in the registrar’s office.]; sold to Charles H. Worcester, Chicago, Sept. 1928; on loan to the AIC from 1928; given to the AIC, 1947.