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Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop, Saints Genevieve and Apollonia and Saints Christina and Ottilia (The St Catherine Altarpiece: Reverses of Shutters)

Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop
NG6511.1 and 6511.2
'Saints Genevieve and Apollonia' and 'Saints Christina and Ottilia' ('The St Catherine Altarpiece: Reverses of Shutters')
Oil on lime(?) panels, NG6511.1: 123.0–123.5 x 66.4 cm, painted surface 123.0–123.5 x 64.3 cm; NG6511.2: 121.3–121.5 x 63.8–63.5 cm, painted surface same dimensions

Provenance, exhibitions, and versions


Both paintings are first recorded in the copies of 'The St Catherine Altarpiece' made by the Torgau painter Daniel Fritsch, which are dated 1586 and 1596 (now Gotisches Haus, Stiftung Dessau Wörlitz and the Evangelical church (Dorfkirche), Berlin, Alt-Tempelhof, respectively). According to an inventory taken at Schloss Hartenfels, Torgau, in 1610 there was in the ‘Schöne Fürstenkammer’ an ‘alte gemahlte Taffel von Ölfarben darauff die Historien von der Catharina’, described in 1601 merely as a ‘grosser Flügelaltar mit vergoldetem Rahmen’, which can probably be identified with Cranach’s altarpiece.1

The altarpiece was brought to Dresden from Torgau in 1738 by the court painter Bonaventura Rossi. It can evidently be identified in the ‘Specification derjenigen Bilder, so von Monsieur Rossi von dem Schlosse zu Torgau mit nach Dresden genommen worde’ that was drawn up in Torgau on 12 July 1738, as number 2, ‘Ein Bild, worauff die Historia der Dorothea auf Holz, in 3 Feldern gemahlt’.2 The whole altarpiece is first recorded in the Dresden royal collection from 1786 in records of paintings to be sold; the wing panels had evidently been sawn in two by this date, as inner and outer panels were listed separately.3 The two outer wings were sold in 1797 together with one interior wing: the panel with Saint Apollonia (NG6511.1) was sold on 27/8 July for 2 Thaler 8 Groschen, and the Saint Ottilia panel (NG6511.2) on 2 December for 11 Groschen.

All three panels were acquired at an unknown date, probably via the Dresden painter Ferdinand Hartmann (1774–1842), by Heinrich Wilhelm Campe (1771–1862), a Leipzig businessman and collector, and sold on 24 September 1827 in Leipzig.5 The National Gallery panels are listed in the sale catalogue as numbers 286 and 287, by Hans Holbein the Elder; number 300, the interior panel depicting Saint Dorothy and her companion, was sold by Hans Baldung Grien.6  The latter was acquired by the Leipzig collector Maximilian Speck von Sternburg (1776–1856), and remained in the possession of his descendents until acquired by the Dresden Gemäldegalerie in 1996, where it had been on loan since 1931.7 NG6511.1 and NG6511.2 were purchased at the 1827 sale by a Berlin dealer, ‘v.d. Laar’, perhaps the artist Ferdinand von Laer (active 1828–40), for a total of 50 Taler and 4 Groschen.8 By 1875 they were in the collection of the banker and trustee of the National Gallery, Samuel Loyd, 1st Baron Overstone (1796–1883).9 They were inherited by his descendents and acquired by the National Gallery from the Loyd Trustees through a private treaty sale in 1987.


London 1906 (46 and 58); Oxford 1934 (22 and 28); Birmingham 1945–52 (10 and 11); London 1956 (16 and 18); King’s Lynn 1966 (14 and 15); long-term loan to the National Gallery, London, 1974–87.

Copies and versions

1. Copy of the altarpiece by Daniel Fritsch of Torgau at the Gotisches Haus, Wörlitz, Stiftung Dessau Wörlitz (five panels, disassembled), signed DF and dated 1586. 
2. Copy of the altarpiece by Daniel Fritsch of Torgau in the Dorfkirche at Alt-Tempelhof, Berlin, dated 1596.10

Further sections

1. Findeisen and Magirius 1976, p. 167; Marx 1996, p. 39.

2. Marx und Mössinger 2005, p. 380 and p. 387, note 2; and Marx 1996, p. 40 and p. 60, note 35. Transcript made by Dr Hans Posse in Archiv der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Posse Archive, vol. XXII, after documents formerly in the Staatsarchiv Dresden, Cap VII, no. 8, Verschiedene Verzeichnisse von Gemälden, loc. 18212. I am most grateful to Katrin Kolb of the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden, for discussing with me the archival evidence concerning the altarpiece at Dresden in the eighteenth century and providing a copy of relevant parts of her transcript of Dr Posse’s notes.

3. Kolb 2005, p. 380.

4. Ibid.; Posse 1936, p. 246; Posse transcript in the archives of the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, after Staatsarchiv Dresden, Cap VII, no. 25 no. 15, sold on 27/8 July 1797: ‘Die heil. Utilia ein Buch inder Hand haltend, worauf zwey Augen liegen, dabei noch eine Heilige’ and ‘nicht zur Auction übergeben worden’; catalogue no. 88, ‘Die Enhauptung der heil. Catherina …’; no. 139, ‘Die heil. Utilia dabey noch eine Heilige von L. Cranach’; under ‘verauctionert’ no. 140, ‘Die heil. Appollonia, dabey eine Heilige so ein Licht in der Hand halt von L. Cranach 2 Thaler 8 Gr.’; and no. 141, ‘Die heil. Agnes ... dabey die hl. Dorothea …’. The panel with Ottilia was sold on 2 December for 11 Groschen.

5. Information kindly provided by Dr Dieter Gleisberg: correspondence in NG files. See also Kolb 2005, p. 381, note 12 (citing Gleisberg 2000, p. 116). The presence of the Cranach panels in the Campe sale in Leipzig in 1827 was first noted in Trautscholdt 1957, p. 244.

6. See Kolb 2005, p. 381.

7. Ibid. For Maximilian Speck von Sternburg see further Gleisberg 1998, pp. 22–40, esp. p. 23 (I am grateful to Katrin Kolb for this reference).

8. Kolb 2005, p. 381.

9. Parris 1967, p. 13.

10. First recorded there in 1818: see Melzer 2005, pp. 44–58), esp. pp. 50–1; it is illustrated on p. 49, with a reconstruction of the original disposition of the panels on p. 51, fig. 3. The panels were separated by 1786, with the separated insides and outsides hanging as nos 2 to 5, the martyrdom hanging in the library. They were brought together again in 1918. The copy does not appear in earlier inventories of the ducal collections in Dessau, but was evidently acquired by Duke [Furst] Friedrich Franz (1740–1817), an enthusiast for Cranach’s work.

11. Kugler 1837, p. 128: ‘Ein Werk aus Cranachs früherer Zeit, dergleichen nicht haüfig gefunden warden, befindet sich über dem Altar der Kirche zu Tempelhof bei Berlin. Es ist mit der Jahrzahl 1506 versehen und stellt auf dem Mittelbilde das Martyrthum der heil. Katharina, auf den Flugelbildren die Gestalten enzelner weiblicher Heilige dar.’