Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder (German, 14721553)
Oil on wood; 13 1/8 x 9 1/8 in. (33.3 x 23.2 cm)
Gift of Robert Lehman, 1955 (55.220.2)
Born into a family of painters, Lucas Cranach, who adapted his name after that of his hometown of Kronach in Upper Franconia, went on to become a celebrated court painter for the electors of Saxony at Wittenberg, one of the main centers of the Protestant Reformation. The Saxon electors served as the protectors of Martin Luther and champions of his cause. Cranach, in turn, developed a close friendship with Luther and was recognized as the reformer's unofficial portraitist, capturing his image numerous times in prints and paintings, several of them showing Luther in disguise. This panel, painted by a member of Cranach's workshop, is one of many large-format replicas after a portrait (Dresden, Gemäldegalerie) signed with Cranach's winged serpent and dated 1532. It would have served as a semi-official and immediately recognizable likeness of Luther during the height of his popularity and infamy.