Highlights

Lucas Cranach the Elder (c. 1472-1553), Melancholy, 1532


Lucas Cranach the Elder (c. 1472-1553), Melancholy, 1532. 51x97 cm. 51x97 cm. KMSsp722.
Download the image in high resolution | Public Domain

With only a stick to help them, three nude boy children attempt to play a game, the object of which is to pass a large ball through a hoop.

A winged woman, lost in thought, splits a stick, seemingly in the process of making another hoop.

The female as a personification of Melancholy
Through reference to a similar figure in an Albrecht Dürer print, the seated female has been read as a personification of Melancholy, one of the four temperaments. Renaissance scholars believed that the world was built from a system of correspondences. Melancholy was associated with Saturn, winter, the dragon, lead, and earth.

The other three were the choleric, the sanguine, and the phlegmatic temperaments. Each of these corresponded to other elements, metals, animals, and seasons. In Cranach’s painting, melancholy seems to be linked to something negative: a demonic witches’ ride takes place in a black cloud outside.

Martin Luther's perception of melancholy
Perhaps Cranach’s Melancholy reflects his friend Martin Luther’s perception of melancholy as a ”bath of Satan” to be fought with ”spiritual joy” and faith in the Word of God. Whatever the case may be, the enigmatic nature of Cranach’s painting leaves it open to individual interpretation.


Close-up or another view

Here you can zoom-in on the work for a close-up view of all of the details. - Or you can gain a new understanding about the work by watching films where researchers, conservators and artists talk about the work from their viewpoint.


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More views of the work – see the films

Cranach - in the artist's view

The artist Lillibeth Cuenca Rasmussen tells about Cranachs painting: Melancholy.

Colophone
Camera, Editing: Martin Pedersen
Producer: Martin Køhler Jørgensen
Contributory: Lillibeth Cuenca Rasmussen


Cranach - in the conservator’s view

Our conservator Troels Filtenborg tells about Lucas Cranach's painting: Melancholy.

Colophone
Camera, Editing: Martin Pedersen
Producer: Martin Køhler Jørgensen
Contributory: Troels Filtenborg


Cranach - in the researcher's view

Our senior researcher Eva de la Fuente Pedersen tells about Lucas Cranachs painting: Melancholy.

Colophone
Camera, Editing: Martin Pedersen
Producer: Martin Køhler Jørgensen
Contributory: Eva de la Fuente Pedersen


Updated: 26.aug.2014
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