Portrait of Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon - Lucas Cranach the Elder. Oil on wood. 16x21
For many years, until the end of his life, the German painter and graphic artist of the Renaissance Cranach (1472-1553) worked at the court of the Saxon elector Frederick the Wise. In Wittenberg, a city that, thanks to the efforts of its ruler, became one of the centers of European humanism, the artist made friends with the founder of German Protestantism and a major figure of the Reformation Martin Luther and his associate theologian Philip Melanchthon.
The master painted both portraits of his friends in the same style: on a neutral background, he placed figures in dark robes and highlighted the faces of the portrayed. Luther, focused and determined, looks into the distance, Melanchthon deepened in himself. The artist also conveyed the physiognomic features of each: one is plump, with a soft outline of the cheeks and neck and a stubborn chin, the second is thin, with sharp features. Cranach emphasizes in both, above all, the human, individual principle, which was especially important for the masters of the Northern Renaissance. Thanks to the artist’s commitment to realism, the viewer can clearly imagine what these people who made the story were.