Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cranach, Lucas the Elder

Venus Standing in a Landscape
Oil on wood
380 x 255 mm (15 x 9.8 in.)
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The Venus is clad only in a provocatively transparent veil. The better to set off the ivory whiteness of her body, Cranach has shown it silhouetted against a somber background of foliage. The landscape conveys in a few strokes an intense impression of the Germanic conception of nature.

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 – 1553), was a German Renaissance rapid and prolific painter. He was court painter to the Electors of Saxony for most of his career, and is known as a close friend of Martin Luther, whose doctrine he upheld in numerous paintings, and he has been called the painter of the Reformation.

He continued throughout his career to paint nude subjects drawn from mythology and religion. He had a large workshop and his son Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515-86), and others, continued to create versions of his father's works for decades after his death.

Venus Standing in a Landscape is an example for the fashionable body of the period. The body is elongated with sloping shoulders, small breasts that are fairly far apart. Cranach emphasized the rounded abdomen, giving the appearance of pregnancy, a desirable body image of that time. In relation to the torso, the legs and arms are long, and the color of the skin is very pale and marble-like. All of these features indicate Cranach depicted fashionable body rather than a natural one.