Saint Maurice

Lucas Cranach the Elder and Workshop German

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 607

A commander of the Roman legion, Maurice was martyred near Agaunum (in present‑day Switzerland) in 280 or 300 CE for refusing to slaughter Christians. He was from North Africa, and in the thirteenth century in Germany he began to be portrayed as Black, influenced by the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich II (1194–1250). Friedrich’s vast territories comprised a diverse community of individuals, and his court in Sicily included Black advisors, soldiers, and musicians. However, Cranach’s representation of Maurice is most likely not based on an actual individual but instead on the life‑size reliquary statue of Saint Maurice housed in the Dominican church in Halle.

Saint Maurice, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Workshop (German, Kronach 1472–1553 Weimar), Oil on linden

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