The Holy Kinship
(so-called Torgau Altarpiece)


Mixed technique on limewood
Inv. No. 1398

zur  Biographie

121.1 x 100.4 cm (central panel)

40 x 120 cm (wings)


This triptych is among the earliest major works carried out by Cranach as painter to the electoral Saxon court. It shows the popular motif of the Holy Kinship – the Virgin’s legendary extended family with the mothers of several apostles. But there is also a second layer of meaning: a profession of loyalty to the German emperor by two regional sovereigns: Elector Frederick the Wise and his brother Duke John the Constant pose in role portraits as the husbands of Mary’s two half-sisters on the wings. In the central panel, where the three husbands of St. Anne (the Virgin’s mother’s) are depicted standing behind a balustrade, the middle husband bears the facial features of Emperor Maximilian.

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