Cranach the Elder, Lucas, Germany Portrait of Frederick the Wise of Saxony 1532-1533 Elector of Saxony. In the middle left featuring a snake. The poem is set down on paper. On the back a paper, on which the full Saxon coat of arms with helmets and covers. Workshop copy. From the collection of dr. Albert Figdor.


Frederick the Wise of Saxony was an uncle of Anne of Saxony, who married William of Orange. He played quite an important part in the life of Martin Luther. After Luther had nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the doors of the Wittenberg church, Frederick had him kidnapped, and kept him in his castle in order to prevent the Catholics from getting to him. While he was in hiding, Luther produced the first German translation of the Bible. A small snake is visible in the  of the portrait; it is Lucas Cranach the Elder’s ’usual signature’. However, this portrait may be a workshop copy. The bluish green colour of the background was also used in portraits by Hans Holbein, and the application of it here might indicate Holbein’s influence on the author of this work. The text under the portrait recounts Frederick’s life, and may have been added to the panel at a later date.