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Monday, September 5, 2016

Cranach portraits of parents

With my new old computer, I can't import the edited pictures, sorry.
Lucas Cranach, popular in his time (the 1500's), fell out of favor with the art historians because he was not a textbook example of the Renaissance. His images lack the smoky blue aerial perspective made so famous during the Renaissance. His figures most often feature an illustrative linear edge to them, as a byproduct of Cranach's work with woodcuts and the printing press. He uses black, which has been disdained by artists since the Egyptian wall murals until the emergence of Goya in Spain and Picasso in France.  When art history does include Cranach, they call him the "artist of the Reformation". It was through his workshop and with his printing presses that literally millions of pamphlets discussing religious, social and political reforms were created. Cranach was a good friend of Martin Luther, (they were God parents to each other's kids, and witnesses at each others marriages), and Cranach painted the famous rebel theologist all through his life. Without those paintings we would not know so clearly what Luther looked like.
When Martin Luther infuriated the Pope, Luther had to seek refuge for several years in the court of Frederick III the Wise, elector of Saxony. That happened to be where Cranach was serving as court painter, so naturally there were plenty of opportunities to paint Luther and his wife Kate, and their kids. In 1527 Luther's parents, Hans and Margerithe visited the court. They would die within the next 4 years. Cranach paints them with a sympathetic eye and later added the gold text behind their portraits.
I decided to do my own version. And slightly change the texts to reveal some of the unsympathetic feelings of the day! Anyone read German?
The father was supposedly very disappointed in Luther, and there was speculation that Luther's dismantling of the Catholic church's power was a direct rebellion against his father, (who had hoped he'd become a lawyer). And the mother, called Hanna by those close to her, was no-nonsense, (she raised at least 9 children), and reportedly punished them with a whipping that could draw blood. During Luther's battle with the Catholic church, he was slandered and accused of being a product of a whoreish mother, and rumors spread accusing Margerithe of sleeping with the Devil in the wash house! Imagine those kind of accusations in our politics today...
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