Wolfgang Beltracchi, 2017
Luther’s Encounter With Saint Anne
Artistic voice: Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1520, Wittenberg
Oil on wood, 53 x 38 cm

»The painting “Luther’s meeting with Saint Anne” (Luthers Begegnung mit der heiligen Anna) picks up on a key scene from the life of Martin Luther. Luther’s appeal to Saint Anne is an expression of his piety in the year 1505. In the course of his subsequent theological studies, he reached a new understanding of God. Luther criticised the veneration of saints. I believe Cranach didn’t paint this scene because Luther spoke out not only against the Cult of Anne, but also against the exaltation of himself personally. In the style of Cranach, Wolfgang Beltracchi paints precisely this scene that was omitted from the works produced in that Wittenberg studio.«

Dr. Marlies Schmidt, Cranach Foundation, Wittenberg

As a law student, Martin Luther encountered a severe storm. In fear for his life, he vowed to Saint Anne to become a monk. Luther formed a personal friendship and close collaboration with Lucas Cranach. Cranach produced multiple portraits of the reformer, Luther, and published his pamphlets. The key event that directed the course of Luther’s life – and therefore also of history – was never actually recorded in art. Beltracchi composes a complex painting reflecting mercy and danger, good and evil with complete ambivalence, just like the saint being called upon. The meticulous depiction of nature, which was a key achievement of the German Renaissance, reveals the influence of the Danube School in Cranach’s early work.