Lot 3
  • 3

Lucas Cranach the Younger

150,000 - 200,000 USD
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  • Lucas Cranach the Younger
  • Portrait of a Woman
  • signed with the insignia of the winged serpent upper left
  • oil on canvas, transferred from panel


Private collection, Paris, by 1910;
With Blakeslee Galleries, New York;
Their sale, New York, American Art Association, 21-23 April 1915, lot 66, titled The Jeweler's Daughter;
With Ehrich Galleries, New York;
Their sale, New York, American Art Associatin/Anderson Galleries, 18-19 April 1934, lot 38 (as Lucas Cranach the Elder);
There purchased by A.L. Erlanger for $1,200.


New York, Wildenstein & Co, Fashion in Headdress, 1450-1943, April-May 1943, no. 21.



M.J.  Friedänder and J. Rosenberg, Die Gemälde von Lucas Cranach, Berlin 1932 (under the listings for Salome, no. 283E);
M.J.  Friedänder and J. Rosenberg, The Paintings of Lucas Cranach, revised edition, London 1978, p. 140 (under the listings for Salome, no. 359E);
The Art Digest [review of Fashion in Headdress], 1 May 1943, reproduced p. 7;
The New York Times [review of three exhibitions], 2 May 1943, reproduced p. X7.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This work has had an interesting history. The painting was originally painted on wood, the size of which was apparently 30 x 23 inches, and has subsequently been transferred onto canvas. The top vertical edge measuring approximately one inch deep is mostly if not entirely added. The original join in the panel from before the painting was transferred, runs from top to bottom through the green curtain on the right side about one inch to the right from the side of the hat. The painting was originally Salome with the Head of John the Baptist, which she was holding on a plate beneath her breast. Subsequently the head was replaced with a more attractive box of jewelry and finally the right arm which was holding the silver charger was cut at the elbow on the left side of the painting and repositioned in the way that it is visible today, with no sign of the plate, the jewelry or even the head of John the Baptist. The bottom two inches of the picture have been radically altered from the original work. What is visible today, apart from these changes along the bottom and the restorations which presumably would have accompanied this re-working, is not visible under ultraviolet light. The restorations that are visible address the original join in the panel mentioned above and there are some fairly evenly placed and isolated spots of restoration in the dress. There is considerably less restoration in the neck, breast, chest and face, although there is a restoration in the neck and some very isolated spots in the forehead. The condition, accepting the top edge and the area around the hand, is particularly good. We do assume that the elbow in the lower right corner, between the light colored brocade, is not original and there are possibly restorations above the wrist, the dark colors of the dress and around the index finger and thumb of the glove. It would be fair to question the motivation behind such radical cosmetic surgery to this painting, but the actual condition of the remaining paint layer is respectable.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

This elegant portrait is a characteristic example of Lucas Cranach the Younger's work in the mid-sixteenth century, an attribution confirmed by Dr. Dieter Koepplin. Set against a green velvet drape, which sets off her red dress and dainty cap, the sitter seems a model of the noble class who were Cranach's patrons.  Her costume clearly appeals to the modern viewer as well, as the reviews of the 1943 exhibition reveal (see Literature).

The Portrait of a Woman was originally a larger composition, Salome with the Head of John the Baptist.  In 1915 it was included in the sale of Highly Valuable Paintings by the Great Masters.... from the Blakeslee Collection, described as The Jeweler's Daughter, with the head of John the Baptist  painted over and replaced by a gaping box filled with necklaces and bracelets.  Sometime before its inclusion in the sale at the Anderson Galleries in 1934, the picture was cut down, removing the portion with the charger, but preserving Salome's right arm and moving it up to form the lower edge of the new composition.

We are grateful to Dr. Dieter Koepplin who confirmed the attribution, made on the basis of digital images, in a conversation of 9 December 2011.  We are also grateful to Dr. Koepplin and to Peter Schmelzle of the Cranach Research Institute, each of whom independently connected the present work to Salome.

An old photo-certificate from Max J. Friedländer, dated 16 September 1932, ascribed this painting to Lucas Cranach, the Elder, datable to circa 1540.