Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1472 Kronach - 1553 Weimar - Workshop. Lucretia.

(comp. Lucretia in the Museum Nischni Nowgorod in Russia). Signed and dated top right: With snake and the dating 1548. Below right inscribed with the stock-no.: 351. Oil on wood. Parquetted. 77,3 x 53cm.

Provenance: Electoral collection in Dresden before 1728 (today Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden)
(Inventory of the collection between 1722 and 1728).
Carl Heinrich von Heineken (presumably after 1740).

Notes: In September 2008 the painting was examined in the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Old Masters Gallery. The expertise pays special attention to the original signature in connection with the date. Also the stock no. 351 (bottom right) was critically examined. The Experts of the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen confirmed the authenticity of signature, dating and stock number. 1548 is therefore the year of origin ante quem.

Dr. Karin Kolb of the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden (thankworthy conducting the examinations on our paintings) pointed out that due to the original date of 1548, the painting originated in the workshop of Lucas Cranach, the Elder. Only in 1550 Lucas I conferred his workshop to his son, Lucas II.

The dating ante quem gains, in the context of workshop production, in importance. Lucas Cranach, the Elder, already painted a Lukretia in 1535 which served as prototype for our painting. This work is being kept in the Museum Nischni Nowgorod in Russia.

Professor Claus Grimm explicated in several publications the organisation and production of artists' workshops from medieval to modern times. For a better understanding of our painting Grimm's thesis is summarised as follows: As early as medieval times, artists' workshops was familiar with the concept of labour devision. Outstanding artists who worked as court painters, was exempted from the workshops. This, however, required simultaneously a heightened production in the studio, since the master delegated routine work amongst employees. Up to the 19th C. it was standard that the master, who taught at the academy, had his most talented student finish his paintings in his name.

According to Grimm, arthistory questions authorship and authenticity wrongly. More appropriate, according to Grimm, the question would be: who - based on the signature or other historical documents - took up the order or who sold the painting? Likewise it is important to examine at which point during the process of creation and to what extent the master engaged in the creation of the work.

Between 1535 and 1548 there are no documents at hand which contains a comparable composition of Lukretia. The dating of 1548 merely vouches that our painting left the workshop at this time with the seal of approval by Lucas Cranach the Elder. To which extent Lucas I or rather Lucas II was involved in the creation of the work is not certifiable and can not be the subject of this discussion.

It is however proven that a painting with the dating 1548 and the Cranach-signet could only leave the Workshop with the consent of the master.

Equally the remarkable provenance vouches for the quality of the painting. The authentic stocknumber as well as the description of the painting in the archives of the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden refers back to the founding father of the Dresdener Paintings Gallery, Augustus II the Strong (1670 - 1733). The electorial collection was inventoried for the first time between 1722 and 1728 and our painting recieved the stocknumber 351. In regard of the large collection, a number as low as this indicates the importance attached to the work. Presumably after ca. 1740 the work was sold from the electorial collection to Carl Heinrich von Heineken.

Carl Heinrich von Heineken (1707-1791) took up the service in 1739 as private secretary and librarian of the electorial prime minister Duke Heinrich von Brühl. His remarkable position in the Dresden art scene though was due to the special regard with which elector Friedrich August II cultivated the expansion and re-organisation of his collection. Von Heineken was consulted as acknowledged art expert on important new acquisitions. In 1746 Friedrich August II. promoted him to director of the copperplate cabinet.

The «Gesamtverzeichnis der in Dresden nachweisbaren Cranach-Gemälde»[Complete record of verified Cranach paintings in Dresden] was elaborated and for the first time presented by Dr. Karin Kolb in the catalogue to the Cranach exhibition in 2005. Our painting is listed here with the note «location unknown» (Cat. to the Exhibition, p. 534).

Vente du Vendredi 21 novembre 2008. Peintures et Sculptures Anciennes et du XIXe Siècle. Van Ham - Cologne - Allemagne