Coburg Fortress – Cranach’s appointment as a court painter

In August 1506 Lucas Cranach the Elder, who had been based in Wittenberg as court painter to the Saxony Electorate since 1505, went to Coburg for a biannual hunting party in the company of Elector Frederick the Wise and his brother John the Steadfast. He resided at the fortress and accompanied the Saxon rulers so that he could perfect his portrayal of the hunt.

Veste Coburg - LutherzimmerIn that year, he created a series of accomplished woodcuts representing hunting themes and other motifs. Some of them show the fortress, where Cranach had decorated the banqueting hall with hunting scenes. From an artistic point of view this exceptionally creative stay at Coburg Fortress proved to be an important milestone at the beginning of Cranach’s career as a court painter. Although the wall paintings have been lost, the portraits of the Elector and his brother from around 1515, which were probably part of an altar created for the castle church, have survived.

Today the Coburg Fortress houses around 35 paintings by Cranach and his workshop. About 20 of these works depicting secular and religious themes are concentrated in three locations at the fortress: in the Luther rooms (where the great reform- er stayed in 1530), in the exhibition of Early German paintings from the Georg Schäfer collection, and in the living room of the last ruling Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, formerly known as the Cranach room because of its decoration. In the Great Court Chamber, you can browse a digital version of the richly detailed tournament book belonging to Elector Johann Friedrich I of Saxony featuring 146 images from the Cranach work- shop from 1534/35.

A walk from the fortress through the Hofgarten Park leads to Schlossplatz with its splendid neo-classical and neo-Gothic architecture. Only a stone’s throw away is the medieval town centre with its magnificent Renaissance buildings and Gothic townhouses. 

Places to visit

Coburg Fortress Art Collections "Luther rooms", The Georg Schäfer collection with numerous other works by Early German Masters and the "Cranach room".

Coburg Fortress Art Collections, Department of Prints and Drawings The Coburg Department of Prints and Drawings, one of the largest collections of its kind in Germany, contains almost all of Cranach’s prints. Particularly striking is the portrait of Martin Luther with the doctor’s cap from 1521 in the first, very rare print version set against a light background, which comes from the collection of the humanist Dr Pfeil.

We offer guided tours in English, please contact Coburg Tourist Information for further information
or call us at +49-9561-898000.

Find more infos about Coburg on the city's English Website.

In 2015, the Luther Decade, with its theme of "Visual Arts and the Bible", celebrates the 500th birthday of Lucas Cranach the Younger - a good reason for the Franconian Cities Kronach, Coburg, and Nuremberg to celebrate the entire Cranach family of painters.

The booklet Franconian Ways - En Route to Cranach is available for Download (PDF, 6,3 MB)