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

Caritas (Charity)

Oil and tempera on wood
Museum zu Allerheiligen, Schaffhausen

From 1529 Lucas Cranach the Elder, and his son Lucas the Younger depicted the Christian virtue of Love, Caritas or Charitas, in some dozen different versions. It happened only in individual pictures, where Caritas (Charity) does not appear in the company of the seven (or more) virtues and vices. The earlier clothed personification - the idealised figure of a woman - has been replaced by the picture of a young mother. She sits in blissful nakedness on a stone bench, her legs modestly crossed, with only a thin veil covering her head and shoulders. She breastfeeds her baby and allows two somewhat larger boys to cling on her.

This composition later appeared in many other versions. The present version is amongst the earliest of Cranach's numerous variants of Caritas pictures. It is signed and of high quality.