Saint Jerome in Penitence

Reference: S41737
Author Lucas CRANACH "Il vecchio"
Year: 1509
Measures: 230 x 348 mm
€6,000.00

Reference: S41737
Author Lucas CRANACH "Il vecchio"
Year: 1509
Measures: 230 x 348 mm
€6,000.00

Description

Woodcut, 1509, signed with monogram and dated lower left side.

Beautiful example, printed with tone on contemporary laid paper, "letters VV in a circle" watermark, thin margins beyond the marginal line, very slight paper fold at the upper left corner, otherwise in excellent condition. 

The plate shows the saint kneels right before a crucifix erected under a tree; the lion lies left.

The coat of arms of Cranach’s Saxon patron takes pride of place on a tall tree, while the statue of Christ on the Cross merges with the trunk in the foreground. Jerome’s hut is visible amid the leafy vegetation in the background at left, nestled among trees and near a running brook. Jerome’s lion rests nearby, watching as the saint casts most of his vestments aside in his devotional ardor. 

Lucas Cranach the Elder was the leading artist of Wittenberg, the intellectual and spiritual hotbed of Germany. Although Cranach was an ardent Catholic when he made this print, he would become one of Martin Luther’s closest friends and most effective propagandists (Wittenberg is where Luther posted his theses decrying church practices). One wonders whether Cranach’s interest in Saint Jerome presages his close association with Luther, the most important Bible translator of his own time. This woodcut fairly pulsates, with nature cast as a spiritual force alive in all its elements.

Bibliografia

Hollstein 84, II/II; Bartsch 63; Dodgson II.295.60.

Lucas CRANACH "Il vecchio" (Kronach 1472 - Weimar 1553)

He was born at Kronach in upper Franconia, and learned the art of drawing from his father. It has not been possible to trace his descent or the name of his parents. We are not informed as to the school in which he was taught, and it is a mere guess that he took lessons from the south German masters to whom Matthias Grunewald owed his education. But Grunewald practised at Bamberg and Aschaffenburg, and Bamberg is the capital of the diocese in which Cronach lies. According to Gunderam, the tutor of Cranach's children, Cranach signalized his talents as a painter before the close of the 15th century. He then drew upon himself the attention of the elector of Saxony, who attached him to his person in 1504. The first evidence of his skill as an artist comes in a picture dated 1504. We find him active in several branches of his profession, sometimes a mere house-painter, more frequently producing portraits and altar-pieces, a designer on wood, an engraver of copper-plates, and draughtsman for the dies of the electoral mint. Early in the days of his official employment he startled his master's courtiers by the realism with which he painted still life, game and antlers on the walls of the country palaces at Coburg and Locha; his pictures of deer and wild boar were considered striking, and the duke fostered his passion for this form of art by taking him out to the hunting field, where he sketched "his grace" running the stag, or Duke John sticking a boar. Before 1508 he had painted several altar-pieces for the Schlosskirche at Wittenberg in competition with Dürer, Hans Burgkmair and others; the duke and his brother John were portrayed in various attitudes and a number of the best woodcuts and copper-plates were published. Great honour accrued to Cranach when he went in 1509 to the Netherlands, and took sittings from the Emperor Maximilian and the boy who afterwards became Charles V. Until 1508 Cranach signed his works with the initials of his name. In that year the elector gave him the winged snake as a motto, and this motto, or Kleinod, as it was called, superseded the initials on all his pictures after that date. Cranach's art in its prime was doubtless influenced by causes which but slightly affected the art of the Italians, but weighed with potent consequence on that of the Netherlands and Germany. The business of booksellers who sold woodcuts and engravings at fairs and markets in Germany naturally satisfied a craving which arose out of the paucity of wall paintings in churches and secular edifices. Drawing for woodcuts and engraving of copperplates became the occupation of artists of note, and the talents devoted in Italy to productions of the brush were here monopolized for designs on wood or on copper. We have thus to account for the comparative unproductiveness as painters of Dürer and Holbein, and at the same time to explain the shallowness apparent in many of the later works of Cranach; but we attribute to the same cause also the tendency in Cranach to neglect effective colour and light and shade for strong contrasts of flat tint. Constant attention to mere contour and to black and white appears to have affected his sight, and caused those curious transitions of pallid light into inky grey which often characterize his studies of flesh; whilst the mere outlining of form in black became a natural substitute for modelling and chiaroscuro. There are, no doubt, some few pictures by Cranach in which the flesh-tints display brightness and enamelled surface, but they are quite exceptional.

Lucas CRANACH "Il vecchio" (Kronach 1472 - Weimar 1553)

He was born at Kronach in upper Franconia, and learned the art of drawing from his father. It has not been possible to trace his descent or the name of his parents. We are not informed as to the school in which he was taught, and it is a mere guess that he took lessons from the south German masters to whom Matthias Grunewald owed his education. But Grunewald practised at Bamberg and Aschaffenburg, and Bamberg is the capital of the diocese in which Cronach lies. According to Gunderam, the tutor of Cranach's children, Cranach signalized his talents as a painter before the close of the 15th century. He then drew upon himself the attention of the elector of Saxony, who attached him to his person in 1504. The first evidence of his skill as an artist comes in a picture dated 1504. We find him active in several branches of his profession, sometimes a mere house-painter, more frequently producing portraits and altar-pieces, a designer on wood, an engraver of copper-plates, and draughtsman for the dies of the electoral mint. Early in the days of his official employment he startled his master's courtiers by the realism with which he painted still life, game and antlers on the walls of the country palaces at Coburg and Locha; his pictures of deer and wild boar were considered striking, and the duke fostered his passion for this form of art by taking him out to the hunting field, where he sketched "his grace" running the stag, or Duke John sticking a boar. Before 1508 he had painted several altar-pieces for the Schlosskirche at Wittenberg in competition with Dürer, Hans Burgkmair and others; the duke and his brother John were portrayed in various attitudes and a number of the best woodcuts and copper-plates were published. Great honour accrued to Cranach when he went in 1509 to the Netherlands, and took sittings from the Emperor Maximilian and the boy who afterwards became Charles V. Until 1508 Cranach signed his works with the initials of his name. In that year the elector gave him the winged snake as a motto, and this motto, or Kleinod, as it was called, superseded the initials on all his pictures after that date. Cranach's art in its prime was doubtless influenced by causes which but slightly affected the art of the Italians, but weighed with potent consequence on that of the Netherlands and Germany. The business of booksellers who sold woodcuts and engravings at fairs and markets in Germany naturally satisfied a craving which arose out of the paucity of wall paintings in churches and secular edifices. Drawing for woodcuts and engraving of copperplates became the occupation of artists of note, and the talents devoted in Italy to productions of the brush were here monopolized for designs on wood or on copper. We have thus to account for the comparative unproductiveness as painters of Dürer and Holbein, and at the same time to explain the shallowness apparent in many of the later works of Cranach; but we attribute to the same cause also the tendency in Cranach to neglect effective colour and light and shade for strong contrasts of flat tint. Constant attention to mere contour and to black and white appears to have affected his sight, and caused those curious transitions of pallid light into inky grey which often characterize his studies of flesh; whilst the mere outlining of form in black became a natural substitute for modelling and chiaroscuro. There are, no doubt, some few pictures by Cranach in which the flesh-tints display brightness and enamelled surface, but they are quite exceptional.