The Serpent and the Lamb, by Steven Ozment

July 26, 2012

Lucas Cranach Sr. (1472–1553) produced more than 1,500 paintings, not to mention engravings, decorative work and altarpieces. In The Serpent and the Lamb, Harvard professor Steven Ozment de­scribes Cranach’s many-faceted character. How do art critics evaluate Cranach’s work, asks Ozment, and have they underappreciated this post-Renaissance man? Do we focus on Cranach the civic leader, who served over 30 years on Wittenberg’s city council and established a pharmacy, a publishing house and the most magnificent house in town (84 rooms)? Or do we focus on Cranach the diplomat, who was able to paint nudes for the good burghers of Wittenburg, create architectural plans for Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg and help Luther implement Protestant reforms? Finally, who was Cranach the Christian? Ozment makes a compelling case for Cranach’s importance as an artist and man of faith whose collaboration with the great Reformer was central to the spread of Protestantism.

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