LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER CRANACH DIGITAL ARCHIVE



PIERRE DE LA RUE

MIJN HERT ALTYT HEEFT VERLANGHEN


Cranach usually signed his works with a black winged serpent holding a ruby ring in its jaws and wearing a crown.

There are various different versions of the serpent.  Cranach changed it around—especially when he signed printed artworks. 

Elector Frederick the Wise granted the winged serpent with a crown and ruby ring to Cranach as a coat of arms on January 6th, 1508, but nobody is sure what it means.  Some art historians have speculated that it is an astrological or alchemical symbol.  Others believe it may be a lost pun concerning some aspect of Cranach’s name or have some allegorical meaning too subtle to fathom.  The actual explanation seems lost in mystery (which is probably how Cranach would like it).