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

Allegory of Melancholy (detail)

Oil and tempera on wood
Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar

In front of the landscape setting, one of the putti swings diagonally across the picture in a loop of rope suspended somewhere above the scene. As he swings, he turns towards his companions. Below him to the left two boys with raised arms stand ready to give him a shove when he swings back, and behind then is a girl seen in rear view looking pensively at the swinging boy. The picture could be seen as a comparatively mild precursor of the much more daring French Rococo composition where the swing of love is occupied by an adult.

Above the scene, surrounded by a menacing black cloud, the women can clearly be seen as witches as they gallop naked across the sky on bull, boar, and serpent. They are led by a knight in an elegant nobleman's outfit, mounted on a billy goat.