I Lucas Cranach

The Virgin and the Child Under an Apple Tree

The Virgin and the Child Under an Apple Tree
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: I Lucas Cranach
Painting, Oil on canvas, 87x59 cm
Origin: Germany, 1520s - 1530s

This is the Hermitage's most outstanding painting from Cranach's mature period. It is full of symbolism of the Christian dogmas of Sin and the Fall and the Salvation of the human race: the young Christ holds in his hand an apple and bread, symbolising atonement for Man's original sin at the cost of his own earthly life. The Virgin is here a "second Eve", atoning for the sin of the mother of the human race, and is a development of a "Protestant" type of Virgin, the embodiment of the True Church on earth. But the complex theological programme did not prevent Cranach from putting into the image of the Virgin all the world's beauty and majesty, depicting her as the true queen of the earth - seen in the superb panorama which spreads out in the background. The calm landscape, with the smooth surface of the water and the chain of blue hills on the horizon, reminds us that Cranach was one of the founders of the landscape genre in Western European art. The rich combination of red and golden-yellow with emerald green and cold pale blue is evidence of the artist's marvellous gift for colour.

Personage: Madonna and Child
Style: Renaissance
Source of entry: Provenance: 1851
Theme: The Bible and Christianity
Exibition: German Art: 15th - 18th centuries

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