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Cranach et son temps - Musee du Luxembourg

Lucas Cranach (1472-1553) is one of the leading representatives of the Renaissance in Northern Europe, and one of the most famous German artists. This generous artist of the entire first half of the sixteenth century, is still unknown in France. To enlight the opening of European part of its programming dedicated to the Renaissance, the Luxembourg Museum, closed since January 2010, inaugurates its redesigned spaces, presenting from 9 February until Monday, May 23, 2011, the exhibition dedicated to him: "Cranach and his time." Lucas Cranach, his success, his reputation in high society, his proximity to the intellectual power, makes it one of personalities among the most original and most amazing of the sixteenth century Europe. The exhibition allows us to understand the place of that artist in art history and his involvement in the society of his time, then affected by violent evolutions of political and religious history. The exhibition is chronological, with the exception of the section devoted to nudes, which is the most famous of his work.  The exhibition begins with two self-portraits by Cranach: a panel dated 1531 and a woodcut made almost twenty years later. On the latter, Cranach was represented among the spectators of the Arrest of Christ, while on the painted panel, his only known self portrait, we address a meditative look. These works indicate the outset the two areas of work of an artist who has distinguished himself not only as a painter but also as an engraver. To reveal the influence of contemporaries, the next exhibition is a selection of paintings, drawings and prints by Cranach with the production of other artists. It focuses particularly on the richness and originality of the talent by Cranach, a track record of decisive meetings with representatives of major political and religious life of the time, so agitated by the blow of the Protestant Reformation. The first years of Lucas Cranach are less known. We only know he was born in Kronach, a small town in Franconia in the north-west of the current Bavaria, which he derives his name. His life and career start and in southern Germany where it is probably influenced by Albrecht Dürer, who then enjoyed a great reputation. It was in Vienna, where Cranach settled in the early years of the sixteenth century, that his career really takes off. Its early success attracted the attention of one of the greatest princes of the Roman Empire, the Elector of Saxony Frederick III the Wise (1463-1525). He invited Cranach in Wittenberg in 1505. Court painter, Cranach is quickly becoming one of the most prominent figures in Wittenberg. Cranach and representation Nuun section of the exhibition is devoted to the nude, which occupies a central place in the work of Cranach. Production in this area remains unmatched in the European Renaissance. Cranach began his career as a painter of nudes in 1509. At that time, he was the first north of the Alps to paint a pagan goddess, naked, natural size, accompanied by Cupid. It is so, the great specialist of naked, treated him with a way to both stylized and sensual, sometimes a disturbing eroticism. In his female figures of great sensuality, sometimes borrowed from the ancient repertoire (Venus, Diana ...), sometimes to the Christian culture (Eve), it represents the beauty of the body sometimes disturbing, with a barrel "is quite different proportions popular during the Renaissance ideal. In 1517, Europe entered the era of the Reformation, when Martin Luther published his theses in Wittenberg fighting against the iniquities of the Catholic Church. The resulting impressed Cranach, with the reformer among his friends. He must find new customers, because the critical position of Luther against images that reduce the demand for religious paintings. He then undertakes, from 1520 in the printing trade, taking advantage of the new application written expressed by supporters of the Reformation. He not only illustrates his famous etchings Testament from September 1522, translating the New Testament into German by Luther, but he also supports printing. With portraits of Martin Luther and his chief supporters and opponents, so to speak Cranach gives a face to the Reformation. The last years of his life were marked by the defeat in 1547 of the Protestant League. He died in 1553. His son Lucas leads the workshop Wittenberg long after the death of his father.

9 february - 23 may 2011
Musée du Luxembourg - 19 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris - 01 40 13 62 00 

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