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Masterpieces

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Lucrecia

Lucas Cranach The Elder

(Kronach, Germany, 1472–Weimar, Germany, 1553)

Lucrecia

Oil on wood

50,5 x 36,2 cm

1534

Acquired in 2012

The painting is a "signed" original work by Lucas Cranach the Elder, with no contributions from his workshop. A profane theme typical of the humanistic fervour at the Court and the aristocracy's interest in classical themes, the subject gives Cranach the pretext to paint one of the most beautiful nudes in his entire oeuvre. It was certainly one of Cranach's preferred themes, as he produced, on his own or with the help of members of his workshop, more than sixty versions. Set against a dark background, the figure of Lucretia, here semi-nude in three-quarter length, is portrayed with the painstaking technique so characteristic of the German Master. She retains the rich accessories at the neck and the link necklace that lies on her chest, objects proper to her noble status; like the handle of the dagger in her right hand, this craftsmanship in precious metals is elaborately portrayed. In the absence of any other decorative features and even of a landscape in the background, all our attention is concentrated on Lucretia and the pale beauty of her body, which Cranach highlights with a powerful beam of light. Heightening the tactile quality of these things is the garnet velvet cloak that covers part of her body; Cranach uses other, infinitely more subtle refinements, including the hair and the thin veil, to underscore the nude's sensuality and to position arms and hands. The magnificent drawing, the rounded forms and the undulating rhythm of the silhouette into which Cranach fits the composition prompts the observer to look over the entire figure before allowing his gaze to rest on the fascinating beauty of the face and the dreamy expression of the heroine about to die. This is without doubt one of the most exquisitely beautiful and refined works the prolific artist Lucas Cranach the Elder ever produced.

Masterpieces