CRANACH, Lucas the Elder
(b. 1472, Kronach, d. 1553, Weimar)
Portrait of Dr. Johannes Cuspinian (detail)c. 1502
Oil on wood
Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur
The red beret on his head alludes to Cuspinian's medical profession: "Medicus rubras fert corpore vestes" (A doctor wears red clothing).
Landscape acts as an echo-chamber for mental states, and, as such, represents a macrocosm in which the individual, or microcosm, finds his or her emotional world reflected. Perhaps this explains the posture of Cuspinian's head. Of course, his pose may be intended to show the humanist still pondering over a book, which he now holds closed in front of him, his left hand - exposing two ringed fingers - resting on its cover. However, his slightly raised head may indicate that he is listening. The listening motif may refer to a piece of Neoplatonic writing by Marsilio Ficino which was especially popular in humanist circles: "It is through our ears that melodious harmonies and rhythms enter our souls, admonishing and inspiring us to lift our spirits forthwith, and, in the very depths of our being, to ponder on such divine music."