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Faith, Family and Politics in Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Holy Kinship Altarpiece

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on Lucas Cranach the Elder's The Holy Kinship Altarpiece, as it traces the characteristics of Holy Kinship iconography, the details of altarpiece commissions and the identification of contemporary figures depicted in sacred guise. It considers saint worship, pre-Reformation, the feelings of intimate love for family, and desires for the prosperity of the family lineage as the corollary of such affection. These various elements reveal the political ambitions of a territorial ruler in a single painting. The "weekday side", or closed altarpiece shows full-figure images of the Madonna and Child and St. Anne worked in a monochrome or grisaille technique. When the wings are open for the "Sunday side", the central and side panels become a single large compositional area depicting the infant Jesus and his extended family.

Keywords: infant Jesus; Lucas Cranach; Madonna; saint worship; St. Anne; The Holy Kinship Altarpiece



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