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Lucas Cranach the Elder, Charity

Lucas Cranach the Elder
NG 2925
Oil on beech, panel and painted surface 56.4 x 35.9 cm

Signature and inscription, provenance, and exhibitions

Signature and inscription

Cranach’s serpent insignia with elevated wings appears bottom left (but has been altered, see Technical Notes).

Inscribed top left: CHARITAS (the inscription is overpainted, see Technical Notes).


Owned by Sir George Webbe Dasent (1817–96), a civil servant and Scandinavian scholar, and given by him to George Howard 12th Earl of Carlisle (1843–1911), an artist and a Trustee of the National Gallery from 1881 until his death; the picture was hanging at Naworth Castle in 1893-5.1 The Earl and his wife were important patrons of the Arts and Crafts movement, commissioning the architect Philip Webb as well as interior decorations by William Morris, Walter Crane, and Edward Burne-Jones.2 The picture was presented in 1913 by Rosalind Countess of Carlisle (1845–1921), a campaigner for women’s suffrage and for the temperance movement.3  


London NG 1994.

Further sections

1. It is listed as no. 129 ‘given to G Howard by Sir George Dasent' in a handwritten inventory at Castle Howard (H2/1/43: Pictures at Naworth as hung 1893-1895), published in Hawkesbury 1904. I am most grateful to Jeanne Nuechterlein for this information which she presented at the conference  ‘Primitive Renaissances’: Northern European and Germanic Art at the Fin de Siècle to the 1930s, held at the National Gallery in spring 2104, and will publish in the forthcoming conference proceedings.

2. See Christopher Ridgway, ‘Howard, George James, ninth earl of Carlisle (1843–1911)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 12 Nov 2013.

3. On 11 May 1913 the Countess wrote to the Trustees of the National Gallery (to whom she had already offered a gift of four pictures) presenting in addition ‘an altarpiece by Barnaba da Modena, signed by the painter, and a small ‘Charity’ by Lucas Cranach, both of which pictures I understand are deemed by the trustees to be desirable acquisitions for the Gallery’: NG Archives NG7/426/3. I am grateful to Jeanne Nuechterlein for advice and information concerning the Countess’s gift.