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Portraits of Martin Luther, Oil by Lucas Cranach The Elder (1472-1553, Germany)

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Portraits of Martin Luther

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Lucas Cranach appeared in Wittenberg in 1505 as the court artist of Frederick the Wise. Wittenberg, a university town which became the greatest and most authoritative centre for the preparation of the Reformation, favoured Cranach's contacts and relations with men of culture, like Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchton. Because the artist too adhered to the Reformation it was only natural that he executed many portraits of Luther. In all Cranach's versions of the famous reformer, the image conveyed is physically faithful, and makes no attempt to conceal the harsh coarseness of Luther's peasant-like head and a certain petit-bourgeois expression. The two portraits of Luther and his wife are recorded still attached together in 1724. Cranach produced many versions both of the double portrait of the couple as well as the figure of Luther alone, popularising a type of painting which became established towards the middle of the 1520s and was destined to survive to our own day.
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Lucas Cranach The Elder

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