- Museum number
Half-length portrait of Frederick III of Saxony facing right, wearing black cap and doublet with a fur collar. A bookplate with the coat-of-arms of the Electors of Saxony by Lucas Cranach is pasted to the back of the panel. 1532
Bodycolour with varnish on panel, with two verses of letterpress on paper stuck underneath, and a piece of paper with letterpress title in the top right corner; woodcut on the verso.
- Production date
Height: 205 millimetres (dimensions of panel)
- Curator's comments
- The date of 1532 on the panel postdates the death of Frederick III, Elector of Saxony in 1525, which indicates that the picture was made as a commemorative piece. The image is loosely based on Cranach's undated woodcut portrait of Friedrich III, of which there are impressions known with similar title and verses underneath as those seen here (Hollstein 129 A. b, printed by Hans Guldenmund; and 129 C, with additional verses printed by Hans Adam).
Dodgsons's annotation on the back of the panel referring to versions of this portrait in Augsburg and Reims supports the idea of a workshop production. It is known also that Cranach's emblem of a winged serpent seen here was used by different members of the artist's workshop (see G.Heydenreich, 'Lucas Cranach the Elder: Painting materials, techniques and workshop practice', Amsterdam, 2007, pp.293-5). Heydenreich mentions further versions of the picture and illustrates one of similar dimensions, dated 1533, in the Metropolitan Museum, New York with a pendant panel in the same style of Johann the Steadfast who succeded his brother Frederick III as Elector of Saxony after the latter's death in 1525 (Heydenrich, op cit, pp.125-6, fig.102). Heydenreich published a document of 10 May1533 recording a payment of 109 'gulden' and 14 'groschen' to Cranach the Elder for '60 pairs of small panels on which both electors are painted in praise and blessed memory' (Heydenreich appendix II, 171). This payment must refer to commemorative panels such as these. There are versions in Berlin and Bern which, like the present piece, have the Elector's coat of arms pasted to the back. Another set, on beechwood, dated 1532 is in the Klassik Stftung Weimar (see R. Hansmann in 'Apelles am Fürstenhof: Facetten der Hofkunst um 1500 im Alten Reich' exhibition catalogue, Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg, 2010, cat.nos. I.I.21 and 22); a further pair of portraits, oil on panel (each 131 x 124mm) dated 1532 and signed with Cranach's serpent emblem, was sold at Sotheby's on 10 July, 2008, lot 105; another, of Frederick the Wise, sold at Christie's New York, 26 January, 2011, lot 9 (200 x 146mm).
This picture was copied by Henry Pierce Bone (1779-1855) in one of a set of enamels in the Royal Collection (Buckingham Palace). The enamel is dated 1845 and inscribed: 'from a Limning by Lucas Cranach in the British Museum' (see Vanessa Remington, 'Victorian Miniatures in the Collection of her Majesty the Queen', London, 2010, pp. ###).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1842 Eastern Zoological Gallery
1981-1991 Framed on the wall of the Keeper's Office, Dept of Prints and Drawings
2017 Sept- Nov: London BM, G90a, Luther
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Entered in the Sloane inventory, 'Catalogue of Antiquities: 'Pictures & Drawings' as: 'The picture of Frederick the 3d Duke of Saxony. 1532' with the price '£1. 1. 0.' In 'List of Portraits' ... (1842, 1879) it is described as 'Limning of Frederick III of Saxony by Lucas Cranach the Elder' and noted that it 'has been transferred to the Print Room because of its diminutive size.' Recorded in the 'Register of Oil Paintings etc in the BM' compiled by Edward Croft Murray (P&D Register cupboard) p.83.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number