The Cranachs: between Renaissance and Mannerism

04.03.2016 – 15.05.2016

Main Building

For the first time in Russia, the Pushkin state Museum of Fine Arts hosts a large-scale exhibition dedicated to the oeuvre of Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553), a prominent master of the Northern Renaissance, and several generations of this renowned dynasty.

Visitors will be able to trace various stages of the development of the Cranachs’ artistic tradition, which combines the interest in an authentic Renaissance interpretation of religious and mythological subject-matters with late Gothic fantastic and spiritual elements, through forty-eight paintings and more than fifty works on paper coming from Gotha, Berlin, Madrid, Prague, Budapest, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and several Russian private collections. The display follows dramatic changes in the artistic vision of German masters which occurred between the Renaissance and Mannerism periods.

Admission fee for the permanent display and the exhibition “The Cranachs: Between Renaissance and Mannerism”

from 11 am до 1 pm: 300 rub., students, seniors 150 rub.
from 1 pm до 5:00 pm: 400 rub., students, seniors 200 rub.
from 5:00 pm till closed: 500 rub., students, seniors 250 rub.

Saturday, Sunday:
from 11 am до 1 pm: 400 rub., students, seniors 200 rub.
from 1 pm till closed: 500 rub., students, seniors 250 rub.

Children under age of 16, ICOM members, disabled visitors with one accompanying person – free.

You can buy entrance tickets online. The ticket to the exhibition includes admission to all exhibitions and permanent display of the Main Building. The ticket is valid for one visit on the date chosen. Reduced tariffs tickets are available at the Museum ticket office only.
You can buy сombined tickets online and on the visiting day pay extra for the exhibition on the Ticket desk.  

The exhibition will feature famous works by Lucas Cranach the Elder «The Mystic Marriage Of Saint Catherine Of Alexandria, With Saints Dorothy, Margaret And Barbara» (late 1510s; Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest), «Venus And Cupid» (1509; The State Hermitage, Saint Petersburg), «Fruits Of Jealousy (The Silver Age)» (1530; The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow), «Judith Beheading Holofernes» (1531; Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha). The display will also include engravings produced by Cranach the Elder and Cranach the Younger from the collections of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, the state Hermitage, and the Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha.

The exhibition is focused on Lucas Cranach the Elder, reformer of German art, whose innovative ideas on composition, color, and characters’ interpretation made a consistent impact on the Northern Renaissance. Cranach’s artistic research of the first third of the 16th century marked the definitive transition from Renaissance to Mannerism. The artist set up a studio which was flourishing for more than one hundred years and was led, at some point, by his son, Lucas Cranach the Younger, and then by his grandson and great grandson. He also created an easily recognizable and peculiar world of striking artistic images. The Cranachs should be regarded as founders of the Saxon artistic school, which had its period of flourishing throughout the 16th century.

 «Venus And Cupid» (1509) was created when Cranach the Elder was the official painter at the court of Frederick the Wise, elector of Saxony. The painter depicted a nude standing figure of the Ancient goddess of beauty and love. After 1530, Cranach and his studio often returned to this subject matter. There exist nearly 35 paintings with the depiction of Venus and Cupid executed by Cranach, his apprentices, followers, and imitators.

The best works by Lucas Cranach the Elder include «Мистическое обручение святой Екатерины Александрийской, со святыми Доротеей, Маргаритой и Варварой» dating back to the second half of the 1510s. From the late 14th up to the mid-16th century, the cult of the four Protecting Virgins (Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Saint Margaret, Saint Barbara, and Saint Dorothy) gained popularity German lands, along with the cult of Mary. Lucas Cranach’s painting depicts the mystic marriage of Saint Catherine with a characteristic rocky landscape of Southern Germany and a dark curtain held by little angels on the background. The composition is centered around the Christ Child in the arms of the Virgin: with one hand he puts a ring on Saint Catherine’s finger, and with the other one he touches the symbolic bunch of grapes held by Mary. The image contains figures of Saint Virgins assisting the event, gathered in a complex compositional and rhythmic group, with their splendid court garments and attributes: Margaret’s dragon, Dorothy’s flower basket, and Barbara’s tower.

 «Virgin in a Grape Arbor» (circa 1522–1523) from the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is, without any doubt, one of the most prominent works of the exhibition. Its every detail is full of profound allusions: the grapes in Mary’s hand, touched by Christ, remind of his human incarnation, which suffered and was crucified as a redemption for the original sin; a bunch of grapes symbolizes “the true Church of Jesus Christ” personified by the Virgin; an image of a waterfall alludes to the life-giving force of Christianism, bound to quench the thirst of righteous believers. Some individual landscape elements also bear a symbolic meaning: the mountain symbolizes spiritual elevation over the worldly vanity; the rock is a symbol of the firm solidity and the imperishability of the true faith, supported by Jesus Christ.

The flourishing period of Lucas Cranach the Elder’s engraving mastery comes in the first decade of his activity at the court of Frederick the Wise, one of the most educated and powerful electors of Germany. Almost all the main easel engravings of the master were created during the period from 1506 until 1516. They characterize Cranach as a multifaceted artist able to surprise the viewer with a wide range of themes and stylistic solutions.

«The First Tournament» stands out among the wood engravings of 1506. It is a major complex multi figured composition. Unlike the three other engravings dedicated to tournaments, this sheet depicts numerous genre scenes along with the competition itself. The artist placed a variegated noisy crowd around a paled center where the tournament took place: riders and pedestrians, women, old men and children, musicians and noblemen. On the background, the elector’s lodge can be seen. Idlers stare from the windows and doors of the buildings surrounding the square.  

Both monochrome and painted with watercolor prints are known. The tradition of coloring wood engravings appeared in Germany in the Middle Ages. This technique was often used by Cranach the Elder.

In 1509, the artist made his first colored wood engravings (chiaroscuro), addressing the technique of woodcut for the first time. In the early 1520s, Cranach almost abandoned easel engraving.

Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515–1586) continued the multifaceted activity of the family studio, first by copying his father’s works in many genres – from religious and mythological scenes to allegories and series of portraits of the elector John Frederick the Magnanimous, Sibylle of Cleves, Martin Luther, and Philip Melanchton. Important changes came with the beginning of the following decade, when Lucas Cranach the Younger gradually abandoned making replicas of father’s works. He supplemented his works with new features, re-organized stylistic and semantic emphasis, which not only reflected his own professional maturity, but also some alterations in the artistic fashion at the Saxon court. One of the peculiar traits of Lucas Cranach the Younger’s oeuvre was his passion for relatively large formats. In the three following decades, after his father passed, and he became the owner of a successful studio, his individual and a very recognizable artistic style was formed. It got its most coherent demonstration in a rather new for that time type of “epitaph paintings”, which were mainly commissioned by members of wealthy Lutheran patrician families.

The exhibition displayed at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts continues the series of international projects dedicated to the 500th anniversary of birth of Lucas Cranach the Younger.

The exhibition “The Cranachs: Between Renaissance and Mannerism” was organized thanks to the cooperation between the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the State Hermitage, and Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha. The participants would like to express their gratitude to the Embassy of Germany in Moscow for its support.


General sponsor

Supported by


Лекция Всеволода Володарского «Немецкий гуманизм. Кранах и культурная среда в Виттенберге»


Лекция Вадима Садкова «Лукас Кранах Старший Живописец»


Лекция Галины Кислых «Гравюра в жизни и творчестве Лукаса Кранаха Старшего»


Встреча в залах экспозиции с Галиной Кислых


Встреча в залах экспозиции с куратором выставки «Кранахи. Между Ренессансом и маньеризмом» Вадимом Садковым


Встреча в залах экспозиции с куратором выставки «Кранахи. Между Ренессансом и маньеризмом» Вадимом Садковым


Лекция Галины Кислых «Кранах и Дюрер. Соперничество в гравюре»


Лекция Всеволода Володарского «Немецкая Реформация. Лютер и Кранах»


Лекция Василия Расторгуева «После Кранахов. Искусство маньеризма в Европе к северу от Альп»


Лекция Вадима Садкова «Кранах от XVI до XXI века: ученики, последователи и подражатели»


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