- Museum number
St George; the knight is depicted on horseback, holding a lance; the dead dragon lies underneath; a castle in the right background; with the two Saxon shields in the boughs at upper left; first state, with a second outline block, printed in gold, on paper prepared with indigo wash, partly scraped off.
Colour woodcut printed from two blocks
- Production date
- 1507-1508 (circa)
Height: 233 millimetres (borderlines)
Width: 159 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Lit: D. Koepplin and T. Falk, Lucas Cranach: Gemälde - Zeichnungen - Graphik, 2 vols, exh. cat. Kunstmuseum Basel, 1974, no. 15; G. Bartrum, German Renaissance Prints 1490-1550, BM exh. cat. 1995, no. 173; S. Dackerman, 'Painted Prints: the Revelation of Color', exh.cat. Baltimore and Saint Louis, Pennsylvania State UP, 2002, pp.69-71 and cat.no.11; S. Lepape, 'Gravure en Clair-Obscur: Cranach, Raphael, Rubens' exh. cat. Paris, Louvre, 2018, cat. no. 1.
Text from Bartrum 1995
Literature: Bartsch, 65; C.Dodgson, II, p. 286, 14; Hollstein, 81; Koepplin and Falk 15
This woodcut represents an important and well-documented stage in the history of colour printing. Although the subject is clearly St George, the "A" ('Altosterreich'?) on the caparison of the horse appears in this way on other Cranach prints (see 1895,0122.275) and possibly refers to the Emperor Maximilian himself, who was known to be involved in raising the status of the knightly Order of St George during this period. An impression of it was sent in 1507 from Friedrich the Wise to the counsellor and artistic advisor to the Emperor, Conrad Peutinger, who mentioned it in a letter of 24 September 1508, written to the Elector: "an equestrian figure printed in gold and silver by your Highness's painter [i.e. Cranach]". It had clearly so impressed Peutinger that he had commissioned a similar experiment in colour printing himself from Hans Burgkmair. Impressions of the resultant prints, the 'St George and Maximilian on Horseback' printed in gold and silver on parchment, were enclosed with his letter to Friedrich (Bartrum 1995, cat. nos. 132, 134). Peutinger asked Friedrich to give his opinion on "whether they are well printed or not", and then wrote on the following day to Duke Georg of Saxony asking for his opinion on the new technique and indicating his close involvement with the project: "I have, together with my artists, discovered a method of printing in gold and silver on parchment and paper". A reply of 17 October from Duke Georg to Peutinger records much admiration of the technique (the letters are quoted in Falk's book on Burgkmair, p. 115).
The impression in the British Museum is one of only two early impressions of Cranach's 'St George' to have survived which correspond with Peutinger's description; the other is in the Kupferstichkabinett, Dresden (repr. Grimm 203). The paper has been prepared with an indigo wash. The manner in which the wash has been applied is suggestive of an atmospheric landscape, and serves as a clue to the original purpose of these prints, which was to emulate the highly finished drawings on a coloured ground fashionable at that date. The line block which registered the heightened areas was printed first, inked with some kind of glue to which gold leaf was then applied and the outline block in black was printed second. An effect of white heightening was created in the background by scraping away the surface of the paper. The Dresden impression is also on blue prepared paper; the first block was printed with a greyish-white substance which does not stand out clearly and which was possibly intended as a base for the gold, traces of which have been noted (Koepplin and Falk 14). Like Baldung's colour prints, the outline block was a self-contained composition which could be printed as a monochrome print, and further impressions of the 'St George' were printed in this way at a later date.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1994 Aug-Oct, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, The Renaissance Print
1995 London, BM, German Renaissance Prints, no. 173
2002 Oct-Jan, Baltimore Museum of Art, Painted Prints, no.11
2003 Feb-May, St Louis Museum of Art, Painted Prints, no. 11
2010/11 Oct-Jan, Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lucas Cranach
2015-16 Nov-Jan, BM, "German Renaissance Colour Woodcuts"
2018-2019 17 Oct-14 Jan, Paris, Musee du Louvre, La Gravure en coleurs du XVIe au XVIIe siecle en Europe
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number