They were active in Saxony during the 16th century. Lucas Cranach the Elder adopted his surname from his birthplace, Kronach, a town of Upper Franconia in the diocese of Bamberg. He was the foremost member of the family of artists by that name, one of sixteenth-century Europe's greatest artists, the archetypal painter of the Reformation.
His father and teacher was a painter by the name of Hans Moller or Maler (1448–1491/2). None of his work is known to survive, but his large house in Kronach on the Marktplatz suggests that he was successful. The name Maler ('Painter') has led to some uncertainty as to whether it was simply a reference to Hans's profession, but contemporary references to 'pictor Lucas Moller' or 'maler Moller' confirm that it had become the family surname.
In 1505 Lucas the Elder settled in Wittenberg and ran a workshop. In about 1512 he married Barbara Brengbier (died 1541), the daughter of a city councillor in Gotha, and in about 1513 and then about 1515 she gave birth to their sons Hans and Lucas, followed by three daughters, Barbara, Ursula and Anna. Both sons later joined the workshop to satisfy the constantly growing demand for branded products bearing the mark of the serpent.