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Lucas Cranach

1472-1553. German painter. For more than forty years he was the prosperous, leading official painter at the court of Saxony. Several times mayor of Wittenberg, patronized by the powerful, worldly Cardinal Albrecht von Hohenzollern, simultaneously a friend of Luther and godfather of Luther's first son-Cranach set up a workshop of a dozen or so journeymen artists who could paint in the wavy, serpentine Cranach manner to keep up with commissions to decorate with “scenes from antiquity” the town hall ceiling, a duke's hunting lodge, new wedding quarters in some castle, or, later on, mass- produce portraits of Luther and Melanchthon. Before he became painterly spokesman for courtly love taste, Lucas Cranach the Elder's style showed a late Gothic, precious, curlicue landscape fascination, alive with the innovation of a virtuoso-Christ's cross is not center but on the right side in a Crucifixion of 1503. As established pacesetter at the court, however, especially after Dürer's death, he painted the nudes which became his trademark. So close to the Reformation, Cranach's art did not become captivated by its reforming spirit.