Lot 10. Lucas Cranach II (Wittenberg 1515 - 1586), Portrait of a Lady; Three Quarter Length, in a Geen Velvet and Orange Dress and Pear-Embroidered Black Hat,oil on panel, 61.6 by 39.4 cm.; 24 1/4 by 15 1/2 in. Estimate 800,000-1,200,000 GBPLot Sold: 1,385,250 GBPPhoto Sotheby's

PROVENANCE: Collection: H.C.W.;

Anonymous sale, Brussels, Fievez, 18 December 1928, lot 28;

Stefan von Auspitz collection, Vienna, by 1931 (inventory number 862: "Cranach, weibl. Bildnis, Kniestück, roter Hintergr.");

Kurt Walter Bachstitz, The Hague, acquired from the trustee in bankruptcy of the above and by whom shipped to New York, Kansas and Baltimore 1 January 1932;

Possibly Dr. Daniel George van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1933;

Anonymous sale ("Property from a Private Collection"), London, Christie's, 5 July 2007, lot 48, for $3,656,912, there purchased by, Colnaghi, London, from whom purchased by the present collector.

LITERATURE: M.J. Friedländer & J Rosenberg, Die Gemälde von Lucas Cranach, 1932, cat. no. 283c; and revised edition, London 1978, p. 138, cat. no. 349D.

NOTE: The Young Lady Three Quarter Length, in a Geen Velvet and Orange Dress and Pear-Embroidered Black Hat is a wonderfully insightful character study, in which Lucas Cranach the Younger combines acute realism with courtly refinement. The faithful attention to the details of costume and jewelry are dazzling.

This elegant portrait is characteristic of the style Cranach perfected during his years in Wittenberg studying with his father. The sitter, with her black velvet hat embroidered with an intricate pattern of pearls, jeweled necklace and elaborate dress, is clearly from the aristocracy. Cranach takes great pains to describe the minute details of her costume in its splendid variety of color and texture. In almost invisible brush strokes he paints the heavy velvet of her dress, contrasting the vibrant shades of deep hunter green and russet orange. He then adds a green foliage brocade pattern created in delicate lines over the russet orange. Her necklace and bodice are equally complex; her delicate white ruffled blouse and underskirt capture the beauty of the delicate material, which the artist has left ever so slightly transparent.

Both Dr. Dieter Koepplin and Dr. Werner Schade confirmed the attribution to Lucas Cranach the Younger when this striking portrait was sold in London in 2007. Both scholars suggested a date of circa 1541 for the portrait, based on the close stylistic similarities to a male portrait, signed and dated 1541, painted on a panel of the same dimensions but with a blue/green background.1 Since then Michael Hofbauer of the Cranach Research Institute has suggested that it may in fact be a collaborative work between Lucas Cranach the Elder and Lucas Cranach the Younger from the period around 1533. He compares the plastic modelling of the sitter's face, as well as the details of her costume including the hat, chain and collar medallion to the Portrait of an Aristocratic Saxon Gentleman, possibly Gregor Brueck, that is on loan to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, and formerly in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne.2

The portrait is also very close stylistically to a beautiful female portrait by Lucas Cranach, the Younger in the Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, whose companion portrait is dated 1543. Both portraits show elegant women, resplendent in fine jewelry, their heads slightly turned to the left and with their hands clasped below their waist. Although the pose of the present sitter might suggest that the picture originally had a pendant, none has ever been connected and the direct outward glance of the sitter suggests that that it was equally likely to have been conceived as a single portrait in its own right. Interesting to note is the pronounced pentiment in the drawing of the hands, and infrared reflectography reveals that the position of the hands was moved completely (see fig. 1). While Lucas Cranach's portraits of men are very individualized, his portraits of young women seem to represent more of an idealized figure than a specific person. Here, Cranach abandons the earlier localized interior settings of his father's portraits and places his sitter against a stark plain background. This striking simplicity and lack of background detail only enhances its very contemporary aspect.

Like many modern artists, Picasso looked to the history of art for inspiration. Particularly during the period from the late 1940s to the early 1960s, Picasso focused with particular intensity on individual works by Old Masters, making variations in painting, drawing, sculpture, and prints. In this instance Picasso tacked a reproduction of a Portrait of a Noble Woman by Lucas Cranach the Younger dated 1564 in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna very similar to this work, to his studio wall and it became the basis for a series of linoleum cuts by the artist. The work of these historic figures had a catalytic impact on Picasso at a time when contemporary art, for example the various forms of Abstract Expressionism, were going in directions counter to his own aesthetic concerns. It is no wonder that Picasso was moved to create a series of lino-cuts inspired by a very similar work by the artist. The contemporary aspect of the portrait is quite remarkable.

1. Sold Dorotheum, Vienna, 20 March 1995, lot 393.

2. See M.J. Friedländer & J Rosenberg, The Paintings of Lucas Cranach, London 1978, no. 341.

Sotheby's. Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale London | 07 Dec 2011 www.sothebys.com