Lucas Cranach the Elder - Adam and Eve, 16th century

Follower of Lucas Cranach the Elder (Kronach, Bavaria, 1472 - 1553, Weimar, Thuringia)

Adam and Eve, 16th century

Oil on panel, 146 x 95 cm (57 1/2 x 37 3/8 in.)

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Object details

Accession number

P30n4

Provenance

Anonymous collector (friend of Prince Hohenlohe), Venice (?), late 19th century.
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner (as the work of the German artist Lucas Cranach, 1472-1553) from the art dealer Antonio Carrer (d. 1912), Venice for 10,000 lire on 15 November 1892, through Austrian Prince Friedrich Franz von Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst (1879-1958) and American expatriot and artists' patron Mrs. Arthur Bronson (Katherine De Kay, 1834-1901).

Bibliography

Art Exhibition: Mrs. John L. Gardner, 152 Beacon St., Boston. Exh. cat. (Boston, 1899), p. 8, no. 20. ("the only painting in America by Lucas Kranach")
Morris Carter. Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court (Boston, 1925; Reprint, Boston, 1972), p. 131. (as by Cranach)
Robert Allerton Parker. "The Revaluation of Lucas Cranach." The International Studio (Jun. 1927), p. 17, ill. (as by Cranach)
"Cranach Revalued: The Work of Sixteenth Century German Artist Much Prized by American Collectors--Paintings by Him in Boston." Boston Transcript (about 10-11 Jun. 1927). (as by Cranach)
Philip Hendy. Catalogue of the Exhibited Paintings and Drawings (Boston, 1931), pp. 106-08, ill. (as influenced by Cranach; the figures as perhaps by Cranach; the landscape as not by Cranach, attributed to Cornelis Masa by Max Julius Friedländer and to Jan de Cock by Adolph Goldschmidt)
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 274. (as workshop of Lucas Cranch; the landscape as by a later artist; the figures as possibly by Cranach in the 1530s)
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 62-63, ill. (as influenced by Cranach; the landscape as modeled on Joachim Patinir; as possibly studio of Cranach; no evidence of multiple artists)
Elizabeth Anne McCauley et al. Gondola Days: Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Palazzo Barbaro Circle. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Venice: Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, 2004), pp. 21, 47, n91, fig. 18. (as by a follower of Cranach)
Helene E. Roberts. Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art (New York, 2013), p. 865.


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Commentary


This puzzling painting was one of the first works by an old master that Isabella Gardner purchased. She bought it in 1892 as a painting by Lucas Cranach, but since then scholars have disputed that attribution. Some say the figures may have been painted by Cranach; others feel they are too sweetly portrayed and must be by another, less-talented artist. Also, no other known Cranach paintings include such large areas of sky or landscapes that appear to recede into space, as this one does. Is this a painting begun by Cranach and then finished or reworked by a student or assistant? Or is it by a later imitator?

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