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

Martin Luther Wearing a Doctor's Cap

Engraving, 205 x 149 mm
Kunstsammlungen, Weimar

Cranach admirably chronicled in portraits the story of Luther. An engraving, dated 1520, portrays Luther in bust, three-quarter view, tonsured and wearing the habit and cowl of an Augustinian monk, the order to which he belonged. His countenance is striking in the determined upward stare and firmly set jaw. For the occasion of Luther's defence at Worms, Cranach issued another engraved likeness (the present engraving), dated 1521, this time as a bust in profile, no doubt in imitation of the Renaissance profile medallions of famous men. The profile allowed Cranach to exaggerate the bone structure of the face, especially the eyebrows, over which the skin seems to be tautly pulled, giving him an even more tense and determined appearance.