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

Samson Slaying the Lion

Oil on beech panel, 57 x 38 cm
Schlossmuseum, Weimar

Samson demonstrated his superhuman strength by slaying a lion with his bare hands. He is depicted with foot in its back, grasping its jaws in his hands and forcing them apart. Combat with a single adversary was a subject that naturally tended to acquire a symbolic meaning. This instance was interpreted by the medieval Church as the struggle of Christ against the devil.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 12 minutes):
George Frideric Handel: Samson, Part 1 Sinfonia, recitative and chorus