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

The Silver Age

c. 1530
Oil and tempera on oak, 50 x 36 cm
National Gallery, London

Similarly to the Golden Age, the source of the subject of this panel was the Greek poet Hesiod who divided the history of mankind into four successive ages: the Golden Age was followed by the Silver, then the Bronze and the Iron Age corresponding to the present. The inhabitants of the Silver Age let their unbridled temperaments get the better of them when they reached manhood and eked out a short existence full of strife. They showed no respect to the gods and were finally wiped off the face of the earth at the instigation of Zeus. The painting probably shows the violent end of the Solver Age, brought about by an attack by warriors from the next age to come, the Bronze Age.

There are several variants of this painting with different pictorial constructions.