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Eve

print

Lucas Cranach I
Kronach 1472 - Weimar 1553
oil on panel
86 x 65 cm
Inventory number 5048

Lucas Cranach I took his surname from his birthplace, Kronach, a town in upper Franconia in Germany. Yet he spent most of his life in Wittenberg, on the Elbe. He was a wealthy and versatile man, who owned an apothecary shop, a printing press and a bookshop, from where he sold his prints. He also held the office of mayor of Wittenberg for several terms. In addition to all these activities, he led a successful painting workshop and became a court painter to Frederick the Wise, the Elector of Saxony, who ennobled him. Cranach is known primarily for his sensual female nudes, such as this rendering of Eve with almond-shaped, half-closed eyes. The serpent tempts her to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. Eve’s posture is similar to that in other renderings by Cranach. But unlike in other versions, she is not partnered by Adam, nor is it clear whether she ever was.

Serpent signature

In addition to the Biblical serpent, there is a winged snake writhing on the tree branch. This creature also appears in the Cranach coat of arms, and it would become the mark of the painter and of the dynasty of painters after him.

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