CRANACH, Lucas the Elder
(b. 1472, Kronach, d. 1553, Weimar)
Cupid Complaining to Venus1526-27
Oil on wood, 81 x 55 cm
National Gallery, London
The Reclining River Nymph at the Fountain (1518, Leipzig) inaugurated a long series of paintings of Venus, Lucretia, the Graces, the Judgment of Paris, and other subjects that serve as pretexts for the sensuous female nude, in which Cranach appears as a kind of 16th-century Francois Boucher. The naive elegance of these ladies, whose slender, sinuous bodies defy basic principles of anatomy, were clearly to the taste of the German courts and have an enduring charm. But in conception and style they look back to the International Gothic style of a century before. Thus from a historical viewpoint Cranach's work was a backwater in European art of the 16th century. And though he was the dominant figure in the painting of northeastern Germany during his lifetime, his influence was confined to his immediate circle.