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

Portraits of Henry the Pious, Duke of Saxony and his wife Katharina von Mecklenburg

Oil on canvas transferred from wood, 184 x 82,5 cm each
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

The canvas with the double portrait of the couple was divided into two parts and transferred to wood.

Following his visit to the Netherlands in 1508, Cranach experimented with Italo-Netherlandish ideas of spatial construction and with monumental nudes, but his true talent lay elsewhere, as is shown by the splendid full-length portraits of Duke Henry the Pious and Duchess Katharina von Mecklenburg, which mark the establishment of his official portrait style. Here, space and volume are annihilated; magnificent clothes, set off by a featureless backdrop, are topped by faces reduced to their essential, typical features.

The Saxon pricess wears a colourful attire and head-dress characteristic for German noble women in the beginning of the 16th century.