Where the Cranachs made the acquaintance of Albrecht Dürer

The Imperial Diet of 1524 brought Lucas Cranach the Elder to Nuremberg at the behest of his patron Elector Frederick the Wise, and it was here that he met Albrecht Dürer.

View of NurembergThis meeting also yielded the famous silverpoint portrait of Cranach (Bayonne). However, because of the similarity of Cranach’s early artistic style to that of Dürer, historians suspect he had been to Nuremberg and worked at Dürer’s workshop prior to his appointment to the royal court of Saxony.

In Nuremberg in 1508, Elector Frederick the Wise granted Cranach a coat of arms depicting a serpent, which the painter used as his signature from then on.

Today, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum houses an extensive collection of important works by Cranach. Lucas Cranach the Elder played a defining role in German art from 1500 to 1550 and his works are among the highlights of the museum’s Renaissance, Baroque and Enlightenment exhibition. A particular focus of the exhibition is the sea change in theological thinking and the radical transformation in the way images were used and understood. Paintings depicting the plague and the sale of indulgences illustrate a religious practice that had become established over centuries. In contrast, Protestant allegories such as Cranach’s panel Law and Gospel attest to a new understanding of religion. Objects such as Luther’s cup or the venerated "piece of fabric from Dr Martin Luther’s robe" show how Luther became part of the cult of saints and relics after his death, something that he had fought against all his life.

Cranach the Elder is represented in the sections of the exhibition on Imagery and the Reformation, Luther, Old and New Teachings and The Power of Beauty. On display are portraits of Luther, Reformation-themed paintings, the famous depictions of Venus and secular images such as the Weibermacht (power of women).

A tour of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum takes us from father to son. The heart-shaped winged altarpiece by Lucas Cranach the Younger (1584) is displayed in the section on Art in around 1600, showing how contrasting styles existed alongside one another during this period.

Places to visit

Germanisches Nationalmuseum Cranach’s works belong to one of the world’s leading collections of German Renaissance art, which includes key works by Albrecht Dürer, Albrecht Altdorfer, Hans Baldung Grien, the master sculptor HL and Hans Leinberger, as well as outstanding arts and crafts pieces such as the famous Erdapfel globe by Martin Behaim.

Albrecht Dürer House High-quality, historical copies of Albrecht Dürer’s major works from the city’s holdings are on display at the Renaissance painter’s former home. 

Further information on Nuremberg in English ...

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)