Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Temptation of St Anthony, a woodcut

Germany, AD 1506

The saint tormented by devils

The image of St Anthony being beaten by devils while suspended in the sky is based on Schongauer's classic engraving thirty years previously. Cranach (1472-1553) has captured some of Schongauer's richly engraved textures in the coarser medium of woodcut. However his rejection of Schongauer's symmetrical composition has led to a rather confusing mix of shapes. His chief addition to the design is the spacious landscape, which derives ultimately from prints by Dürer.

The year before producing this signed and dated woodcut, the 33-year-old Cranach had been appointed court painter to Frederick III ('the Wise'), elector of Saxony whose capital moved to Wittenberg. The elector's coat of arms may be seen hanging from the tree, and they appear thereafter in most of Cranach's prints. Two years later Frederick granted Cranach a coat of arms which included a winged serpent, with which he signed many of his later works.

Cranach ran a very successful workshop with his two sons, producing over 1000 paintings for the court and local aristocracy. He was also closely associated with Martin Luther, who was professor of scripture at Wittenberg University between 1512 and 1546. By illustrating and supervising the printing of many of Luther's publications, Cranach had an important influence on the progress of the Reformation.

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More information


G. Bartrum, German Renaissance prints, 149, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

D. Landau and P. Parshall, The Renaissance print 1470-155 (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1994)


Height: 404.000 mm
Width: 270.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1895-1-22-255 (Bartsch 56)



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