• Old Master & 19th Century Pain auction at Christies

    Sale 2282

    Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings, & Watercolors

    27 January 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 171

    Follower of Lucas Cranach the Elder

    Melancholia

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Follower of Lucas Cranach the Elder
    Melancholia
    with artist's cypher, date and inscription 'Melencolia 1528' (center) and inscribed with inventory number '324' (lower left)
    oil on panel
    47 x 32¾ in. (119.4 x 83.2 cm.)


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    Melancholy, one of the four humors from classical and medieval tradition, is personified in Cranach's compelling image. The humors -- Choler, Phlegm, Melancholy, and Sanguinity -- were believed to be combined in each person in varying degrees, and therefore an essential part of one's nature. The inspiration for our picture is Dër's engraving of Melancholy done in 1514. The iconography surrounding the engraving is complex, with Melancholy personified as a winged woman surrounded by instruments of learning - an hourglass, scales, a compass - yet paralyzed in idleness.

    Our painting, worked in Cranach's more lighthearted style, depicts a woman, who far from brooding, seems reflective while she whittles away. Similarly, departing from the gloomy atmosphere of Dürer's work, Cranach's image substitutes an open, airy landscape and a vista with children playfully wrestling a dog, while the 'melancholic' dog is concealed behind the table. Two elements not found in the engraving are novel additions in our painting: Melancholia making a magic wand, and the introduction of black magic in the form of a band of witches and demons in the upper left corner.

    There are three known versions of the present composition, each with a number of variations (see M.J. Friedländer and J. Rosenberg, The Paintings of Lucas Cranach, op. cit., p. 124, under no. 277A): Switzerland, Private collection (oil on panel; 30 1/8 x 22 in.); London, Earl of Crawford collection (oil on panel; 44 x 28 in.); and Stockholm, Christina of Sweden collection (oil on panel; 29 7/8 x 22 in.).

    Provenance

    Dr. Paul Weber, Jena, Germany.
    with Moslé, Leipzig; Parke-Bernet, New York, 22 April 1948, lot 26, as 'Lucas Cranach the Elder', where purchased by
    Frederick W. Schumacher, Columbus, Ohio, and by bequest to the
    Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, 1957.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY OF THE COLUMBUS MUSEUM OF ART, OHIO, TO BENEFIT ITS ACQUISITION FUND


    Literature

    M.J. Friedländer and J. Rosenberg, Die Gemälde von Lucas Cranach, Berlin, 1932, p. 71, under no. 228, as 'a copy'.
    R. Klibansky, et al., Saturn and Melancholy, London, 1964, p. 382, under note 21, as 'a copy'.
    K. Paris, ed., The Frederick W. Schumacher Collection, Columbus, 1976, pp. 194-196, as 'Lucas Cranach the Elder'.
    M.J. Friedländer and J. Rosenberg, The Paintings of Lucas Cranach, Ithaca, 1978, p. 124, no. 277b, as 'a copy'.


    Exhibited

    Columbus, Gallery of Fine Arts, The Gothic North, 1 October-7 November 1949, lot 27, as 'School of Cranach'.