(b. ca. 1513, Wittenberg, d. 1537, Bologna)

Travel sketchbook

Paper, 203 x 160 mm
Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum, Hannover

The sketchbook that accompanied Hans Cranach on his journey to Bologna, where he died from an unknown illness on 10 October 1537, conveys an intricate insight into the artistic practice of the Cranach workshop. It is bound in the semi-rigid board with folding cover typical of this kind of book, the cover pierced to hold the silverpoint. The front endpaper is emblazoned with the family coat of arms executed in bodycolour, accompanied by the initials of the eldest son. It is assumed that Lucas Cranach the Elder may have designed the book for his son and in 1536 gave it to him bound and ready to use.

Hans Cranach used the book in several ways. From 1536 it served him as a sketchbook which he filled in an unsystematic way. He also used it as a notebook, and as an Album Amicorum into which friends and travelling companions added writings and drawings. After the death of Hans, the sketchbook continued to be used, with the result that his own drawings are in the minority.