May 9, 2006

Saint Christopher

Saint Christopher

c. 1509

Lucas Cranach

(German, 1472–1553)

Chiaroscuro woodcut

Gift of Mrs. Ralph King 1941.40

Catalogue raisonné: Hollstein 79

State: IIe/Iie



In Hans Burgkmair's Emperor Maximilian on Horseback, the black outline and white highlights are printed and the paper is washed blue. In Saint Christopher, however, while the black line block is still printed, color is now printed with a tone block and unprinted areas of the white paper act as highlights. Although Saint Christopher is dated 1506, it was probably made after 1508 when Cranach was granted permission by Duke Friedrich to use the coat of arms with a winged serpent seen hanging from the tree. Further, it was only after the artist returned from a trip to the Netherlands in 1508 that he probably would have learned about the use of a tone block by his rival Burgkmair. He then produced two woodcuts using tone blocks—Saint Christopher and Venus and Cupid—predating them to 1506 to claim the invention of chiaroscuro woodcuts for himself.

See also
PR - Chiaroscuro
Type of artwork: 

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