Lucas Cranach - Painter of the Reformation

written on 29/10/2020
by Gabi Breitenbach


Born in October 1472, in the small town of Kronach in the region of Franconia, the artist called himself Cranach in homage to his hometown. Little is known about his youth and upbringing, but we know that Cranach quickly surpassed his father who had taught him painting.

After having spent some time in Vienna where he gained his reputation of being a gifted portrait painter, Cranach settled down in the small town of Wittenberg on the River Elbe in 1505 which is where his golden era began.

Elector of Saxony Frederick III, often called Frederick the Wise, was just turning the little town of 3.000 inhabitants into a residential city where science and art were to flourish. Cranach became his court painter and produced many portraits of Frederick III.



Cranach is also commonly known as the painter of the Reformation. He met Martin Luther, who at that time was a professor of theology in Wittenberg, and they became friends.

The Protestant church founded by Luther had a different approach to religion as it promoted a new, direct and personal link between the individual and God and Cranach provided images for that.

He painted religious subjects, first in the Catholic tradition, and later whilst trying to find new ways of conveying Lutheran religious concerns through art.



Cranach produced more images of the female nude than any other artist of his era. So numerous were his portraits of classical deities in a state of undress that he is now considered to be the first artist to bring the genre of the nude to wooden panel painting in Germany.



You can find all of his art work and the research results on this website: Cranach Digital Archive

HIs work also inspired other artist, like Andy Warhol:



Lucas Cranach the Elder: A collection of 394 paintings: 


Cranach and Medieval modern art: 


Scene Adam and Eve in paradise: