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Studio of Lucas Cranach II (Wittenberg 1515-1586 Weimar)
Studio of Lucas Cranach II (Wittenberg 1515-1586 Weimar)

Christ as the Man of Sorrows

Studio of Lucas Cranach II (Wittenberg 1515-1586 Weimar) Christ as the Man of Sorrows oil on panel 30½ x 20 1/8 in. (77.5 x 51.1 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 29 January 1999, lot 69, as Lucas Cranach II.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 9 December 2005, lot 127 (when acquired by the present owner).

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Lot Essay

This precise composition does not appear to recur in any other known work by either Lucas Cranach I or II, or their workshop; there are, however, a group of closely related paintings of varying compositional formats, which Friedländer and Rosenberg note could be by Lucas Cranach II. Of those, the closest is the Christ the Man of Sorrows, datable to after 1537, sold, Helbing, Munich, 7 December 1903, lot 21 (see M.J. Friedländer and J. Rosenberg, The Paintings of Lucas Cranach, London, 1978, p. 145, no. 380, illustrated), which differs most noticeably in the reversal of the overlapping arms and the inclusion of the gold nimbus in the present picture (possibly a later addition by a different hand). The only other composition to depict the subject in a single figure format is that, also datable to after 1537, in the Museo de Arte, Ponce, Puerto Rico (inv. no. 61.0181; ibid., p. 146, no. 381, illustrated), in which Christ’s arms are raised to cover the upper chest.

The depiction of Christ as The Man of Sorrows, which also recurs in various multifigural works after 1537, flanked by angels and/or the Virgin and Saint John, derives from earlier prototypes by Lucas Cranach I, including the figure in the central panel of the Altarpiece of George the Bearded of 1534 (Meissen, Cathedral) and the Christ the Man of Sorrows flanked by two angels on the reverse of the Fourteen Helpers in Need of circa 1507 in the Marienkirche, Torgau. It is well known that, after the death of his older brother, Hans, in 1537, Lucas II took over the running of the family workshop, after which date the majority of paintings officially by Lucas I are probably largely by his son or a workshop hand. The size and scale of that workshop is only partially understoood, but it could produce pictures in considerable numbers, and this has complicated attributions to the Cranachs’ wider circle. The present picture reflects these difficulties but, as an adaptation rather than a copy of a picture by Lucas I or II, it is here catalogued as a workshop production.

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