Lucretia (1533) by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Lucretia - Lucas Cranach the Elder - c.1524

Artwork Information

ArtistLucas Cranach the Elder
MediumOil on Panel
Dimensions14 1/2 x 9 3/16 in. (37.3 x 23.9 cm)
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationAlte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany
Location Created Germany

About Lucretia

The artwork “Lucretia” by Lucas Cranach the Elder, a distinguished figure of the Northern Renaissance, is an oil on panel dated circa 1524. It is a portrait that forms part of a series also named “Lucretia” and measures approximately 14 1/2 by 9 3/16 inches (37.3 by 23.9 cm). Created in Germany, this piece is currently housed in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, Germany.

This portrayal of Lucretia exhibits the artist’s adept skill in capturing the poignancy of the subject’s narrative. The artwork presents a solitary figure, a Roman woman named Lucretia, who is depicted nude, save for an elaborate necklace. The figure’s red hair cascades down one side, partially covering her body, while her facial expression conveys resignation and solemnity. Lucretia’s right hand grasps a dagger, positioned near her heart, hinting at her imminent self-inflicted demise, while her left hand modestly attempts to cover her nudity. This representation communicates the tragedy of Lucretia’s story—a tale of honor and virtue that, according to legend, had profound implications for the governance of Rome. The dark background serves to isolate and focus attention on Lucretia, emphasizing her noble yet tragic decision to commit suicide rather than live with the dishonor of having been raped. Through this work, Cranach engages with themes of purity, virtue, and sacrifice, characteristics emblematic of Northern Renaissance humanism.

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