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Saints Christina and Ottilia
Lucas Cranach the Elder
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This painting, which shows Saints Christina and Ottilia, was part of a multi-panelled altarpiece made by Cranach in 1506, shortly after he was appointed court painter to the Elector of Saxony, Friedrich the Wise.

Saint Christina of Bolsena was a third-century virgin martyr. When she renounced her pagan faith and converted to Christianity, her father ordered her torture – but every attempt was thwarted and Christina remained miraculously unharmed. She stands on the stone to which she was tied before being thrown in a lake. Despite the heavy weight, she floated. She was eventually killed by beheading.

Saint Ottilia of Alsace was a Benedictine nun whose blindness was miraculously cured during her baptism into the Christian faith. She went on to bring her brother back to life after their father accidentally killed him, and was the founder of numerous monasteries.

Key facts
Artist Lucas Cranach the Elder
Artist dates 1472 - 1553
Full title Saints Christina and Ottilia
Group The St Catherine Altarpiece: Reverses of Shutters
Date made 1506
Medium and support Oil on limewood(?)
Dimensions 123 x 67 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1987
Inventory number NG6511.2
Location in Gallery Room 4
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The St Catherine Altarpiece: Reverses of Shutters

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These paintings were originally part of a multi-panelled altarpiece with wings that could be closed to cover the central panel. As the backs of the wings could sometimes be seen, they were also decorated; that’s where these four figures, of Saints Genevieve and Apollonia, and Saints Christina and Ottilia, once appeared. These images have since been separated from the inner faces of the wings.

This altarpiece was one of the first commissions Cranach made for the electors of Saxony and was almost certainly displayed in the electors’ chapel in the castle at Wittenberg. The central panel, now in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden, depicts the martyrdom of Saint Catherine witnessed by Elector Friedrich the Wise and possibly Johann the Steadfast.

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