Cranach's Bible

Cranach's Bible

Wittenberg (Germany) — 1541

Cranach’s Bible: translated by Martin Luther, magnificently illuminated by Lucas Cranach, and printed by Hans Lufft, the "Bible printer"

  1. The Apocalypse as translated by Martin Luther (1483–1546) was illustrated here by Lucas Cranach the Younger (1514–86)

  2. 26 colored woodcuts accompanying the text are considered to be the best graphic art of the time

  3. The incredible work was printed in Wittenberg in 1541 by Hans Lufft (1495–1584), the famous “Bible Printer”

Cranach's Bible

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Cranach's Bible

The so-called Cranach's Bible is a gem of illumination and the history of the 16th century. 26 colored woodcuts by the monogrammist MS and Lucas Cranach the Younger adorn the pages of the book, which was printed in Wittenberg by Hans Lufft in 1541 – in the workshop of the famous “Bible Printer”. The biblical text of the Apocalypse as translated by Martin Luther was illustrated here with wonderful depictions, which visualize the tale in expressive pictures and transmit an impressive picture of this exciting Reformation period.

Cranach's Bible

The so-called Cranach's Bible is a gem of illumination and the history of the 16th century. 26 colored woodcuts by the monogrammist MS and Lucas Cranach the Younger adorn the pages of the book, which was printed in Wittenberg by Hans Lufft in 1541 – in the workshop of the famous “Bible Printer”. The biblical text of the Apocalypse as translated by Martin Luther was illustrated here with wonderful depictions, which visualize the tale in expressive images and transmit an impressive picture of this exciting Reformation period.

A Glimmering Work by the Bible Printer

The first complete translation of the Bible was already published in 1534 in the print shop of Hans Lufft in Wittenberg, who originally came from Amberg. The translation of the Bible by Martin Luther could be widely disseminated and adapted in this way and thus take effect. Hans Lufft earned the epithet “the Bible Printer” for his activities during the Reformation. Finally in 1541, another edition of Luther’s biblical translation was published in his print shop, known today as Cranach’s Bible as well as the Zerbster Prunkbibel due to its splendid design and repository in the municipal archive of Zerbst (a city neighboring Wittenberg).

The Exceptional Illumination

The illustrations accompanying the text are what make this printed book so special: 26 woodcuts by the monogrammist MS and Lucas Cranach the Younger. The illustrations of the Apocalypse, as assembled here, belong among the best of what graphic art had to offer at that time. The savage, eccentric depictions were colored in Cranach’s workshop. They transmit a successful picture of the Apocalypse: it shows a terrifying Satan being pardoned, the menacing sky hangs over a deserted-looking landscape in the background. Other miniatures present the typical depictions of the Apocalypse, e.g. the Whore of Babylon, the Dragon and the Woman of the Apocalypse, or the Riders of the Apocalypse.

The Painter of the Reformation

Cranch’s Bible is named after its primary master Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515–1586). His father, Lucas Cranach the Elder, is already directly associated with the person of Martin Luther as a painter of countless portraits of the protestant reformer. Cranach the Younger carried the important Cranach workshop of his father’s forward and like his father was considered to be the most important, indeed the master painter of the Reformation. The Apocalypse from Cranach’s Bible presented here visualizes the fullness of expressive symbolic power with its illustrations in combination with the language of Luther’s new translation - a “highpoint of German Bible art”!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Zerbster Prunkbibel
Cranach-Bibel
Cranach-Apokalypse
Size / Format
76 pages / 41.0 × 28.0 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
1541
Language
Illustrations
26 colored woodcuts
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Cranach's Bible – City Archive (Zerbst, Germany)
Edition Leipzig – Leipzig, 2008
Limited Edition: 800 copies
Detail Picture

Cranach's Bible

The Beast from the Sea

The Book of Revelation describes three beasts in service to the dragon, the first emerging from the sea, which is depicted here. They are an allusion to the four beasts described in the Book of Daniel representing a succession of kingdoms. This splendidly gilded woodcut shows the people of earth kneeling in terror: “So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” (Rev. 13:4)

Zerbster Prunkbibel
Single Page

Cranach's Bible

The Fifth and Sixth Seals

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.” (Rev. 6:9). The upper register depicts the martyrs of the church who cry out in vengeance. The billowing clouds are the product of countless skilled strokes with the engraver’s chisel.

“I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.” (Rev. 6:12–13). The day of wrath has come – powerful, lavishly dressed men run to the caves for shelter in this wonderfully colored and gilded engraving.

Zerbster Prunkbibel
Facsimile Editions

#1 Zerbster Prunkbibel

Edition Leipzig – Leipzig, 2008

Publisher: Edition Leipzig – Leipzig, 2008
Limited Edition: 800 copies
Binding: Blue hardcover with golden title
Commentary: 1 volume
Languages: English, German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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