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

Christian II of Denmark

Woodcut, 166 x 117 mm
British Museum, London

Christian II (1481-1559) was King of Denmark and Norway (1513-23) and Sweden (1520-23). He was hated by the nobility in Denmark and Norway for his system of taxation. Jutland (Denmark) revolted and gave the Danish crown to Frederick I in 1523. Christian fled to the Netherlands, but attempted to regain his throne in 1531 by invading Norway. He was captured by Danish forces in 1532 and imprisoned until his death.

Christian's eagerness to be portrayed by leading artists was evident as early as 1515,several years before he was deposed, and the many portraits of Christian in different media rival in quality those of almost any other sitter in the early sixteenth century. While in Germany in 1523, Lucas Cranach the Elder made three woodcut portraits of him, two of these served as illustrations in publications used to further the king's cause.