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


Oil on limewood panel, 60 x 47 cm
Private collection

This is one of the earliest known treatments of the classical subject of Lucretia by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Of all the known depictions of Lucretia by Cranach and his circle, this can be considered the most sensual and it is an example of the type of erotic historical painting produced for the artist's private patrons. It depicts the female heroine three-quarter length, wearing a fur mantel and holding the dagger to her breast.

For Cranach, the figure of Lucretia appears to have represented an embodiment of virtue rather than merely an historical figure. His fascination with the story of Lucretia is attested by the considerable number of treatments of the subject that he painted throughout his long career, with some 35 versions attributed to him or his circle.