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  Lucas Cranach the Elder

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Lucas Cranach the Elder
 
 
 
The seductive nudes of Cranach
 


Venus Standing in a Landscape

1529
Oil on wood, 380 x 255 cm
Musee du Louvre, Paris




Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), born one year after Durer, is as self-determined as Durer but without his spiritual concentration. From an early stage in his career, Cranach was able to obtain copies of Duurer's woodcut prints, and his familiarity with these was to have lasting influence on his painting, with its sharp definition and brilliant color.
Cranach was almost two painters in one - artistically schizophrenic, as it were. His most popular works are the decidedly seductive nudes with which he delighted his aristocratic patrons. These coy creatures have the rare distinction of fitting in with modern tastes, being slender, free-spirited, and even kinky. They have a sort of refined sexuality, but it is also cold and teasing: we are tempted to think that Cranach did not really care for women and may even have feared them. His Nymph of the Spring has hung up her hunting arrows, but the presence of a pair of partridges (birds of Venus) suggests that it is the human heart that she hunts. A distinctly diaphanous wisp of silk draws attention to her loins by "covering" them, she wears her jewelry provocatively, and she is clearly only pretending to be asleep, propped up on the thick, sensual velvet of her dress. She sprawls before us, part of the landscape and in a sense its essence. A Latin inscription on the upper left reminds us that this is a nymph of a sacred fountain. She is not a secular image, despite her alluring nakedness. We are warned not to break, not to shatter her holy slumbers. Love, Cranach is telling us, is something we have to approach with delicate reverence. A meaningful landscape surrounds her. Close by is the mysterious, symbolic cave in the rock - again, an image of sacred sexual symbolism, the female hollow. Beyond that there is the world of commerce and battle, church and family, in which the sacred realities of sex are played out in actual life.



Sister Wendy

Venus wears only an elaborately jewelled hairnet and necklaces. She is coyly holding a diaphanous veil and looks out seductively at the viewer. Her body is idealized, perhaps because artists at this time rarely used live female models. Nude women were not often shown unless they appeared in a narrative scene or as mythical goddesses. Cranach seems to have ignored the Classical spirit of the dav, and for this reason his nudes sometimes seem almost primitive. The choice of a mythological rather than a religious subject for this picture may have been because the patron was Protestant. We know little about Cranach other than that his influence in Protestant Germany was widespread. He seemed to appear suddenly, and produced his best work early in his long career, thereafter leading the easy life of a Court painter. He is called Lucas the Elder because he was the first in a dvnastv of artists who carried on his traditions and style.

 

   


Nymph of the Spring

 


Nymph of the Spring

 


The Nymph of the Fountain
1534
Panel
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

 


Reclining River Nymph at the Fountain
1518
Oil on wood, 59 x 92 cm
Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig

 

 
 


Venus and Cupid
1509
Oil on canvas transferred from wood, 213 x 102 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
 
 
 
 
 

The Judgment of Paris
1512-14
Limewood, 43 x 32,2 cm
Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne



 

Lucretia
c. 1524
Lime panel
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
 



Adam and Eve
1533
Wood, 47 x 35 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin





Adam and Eve
c. 1538
Panel
National Gallery, Prague





Adam and Eve



The Three Graces
1535
Oil on wood, 50,5 x 35,7 cm
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City





Cupid Complaining to Venus
1530
Oil on wood, 81,3 x 54,6 cm
National Gallery, London



 

Charity
Oil on panel, 50 x 34 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp







Venus and Cupid
1531
Oil on canvas, 176 x 80 cm
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels






Venus and Cupid with a Honeycomb
c. 1531
Oil on canvas
Galleria Borghese, Rome




Venus
1532



Paradies
1536

 
 
 
 



The Fountain of Youth
1546
Lime panel, 122,5 x 186,5 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin


 



The Golden Age
Wood, 73 x 105 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

 
 
 
 
 
 
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