Madonna and Child with Grapes, c. 1537

Lucas Cranach the Elder worked in a time of religious upheaval. Martin Luther (a close associate of Cranach) led the Protestant Reformation challenging the Catholic Church, arguing that man could have a direct relationship with God without the need for a priest to intermediate.

Cranach adapted familiar Catholic imagery to the Protestant Reformation. The image of Mary as a half-figure with her son Jesus Christ as a little man standing on her lap is derived from Italian prototypes of the later 1400s. Jesus holds a single grape, which he has picked from a bunch held by his mother. This refers to the belief that bread and wine turn into Christ’s body and blood during Catholic mass, a doctrine shared by Martin Luther but disputed by other reformers.

Madonna and Child with Grapes
Artist Life
(Saxony), 1472 - 1553
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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