CRANACH, Lucas the Elder
(b. 1472, Kronach, d. 1553, Weimar)

The Crucifixion

c. 1501
Oil and tempera on limewood, 59 x 45 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

This is the earliest known painting by Cranach, executed for the Schottenkirche in Vienna.

Cranach's style was fully formed and underwent little development after about 1515, and the highly finished, mass-produced paintings after that date suffer by comparison with the more individual works he painted in early adulthood. The paintings the 30-year-old artist did in Vienna were of a profoundly devotional kind set in the wild landscapes of the Alpine foothills, with ruins and windswept trees. These pictures show Cranach as an avant-garde artist of considerable emotional force, and one of the initiators of the Danube school. Notable among them is the Crucifixion in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. It comes from the painter's first known creative period, spent in Vienna, before he moved in 1504-05 to the court of Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony in Wittenberg.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 22 minutes):
Heinrich Schütz: Die sieben Worte am Kreuz SWV 478