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Portrait of a Woman
Lucas Cranach the Elder

We don‘t know the identity of this woman dressed in sumptuous fabrics and heavy gold jewellery, but her clothing is like that worn by the elite of society and ladies of the Saxon court. Her outfit is, in parts, physically impossible: the rings she wears under her gloves are higher up her fingers than the ones she wears over them. Cranach has manipulated reality to emphasise her wealth and beauty.

The letter ’M' is fashioned in pearls across her bodice, suggesting that this is a portrait of a real person, but her facial features follow a generic, idealised perception of beauty. It has been suggested that this woman could have been a mistress of one of the electors of Saxony, and her features were deliberately generalised by Cranach.

Key facts
Artist Lucas Cranach the Elder
Artist dates 1472 - 1553
Full title Portrait of a Woman
Date made 1525-7
Medium and support Oil on wood (beech?)
Dimensions 35.9 x 25.1 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG291
Location in Gallery Room 4
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