Not far from Nürnberg, Lucas Cranach is necessarily influenced by Dürer with whom he competes for commissions. He is working since 1504 at the Saxon court in Wittenberg.
Cranach's vision of Lucretia follows Dürer as he is interested in her suicide instead of the rape. With a portrait quality that matches Dürer's art, Cranach imagines the very beginning of the mortal action, when the exemplary virtue has not been cancelled by the physical pain.
Lucretia is not Eve. In Livy's story, she is a totally innocent victim who reacts in an admirable action. The Lucretia of Livy opens the way for the Republic which annihilates the tyranny. Cranach's Lucretia opens the way for the reformation of the mores by Luther.
The first two representations of Lucretia's suicide by Cranach are oils on wood of the same size and composition, 60 x 49 cm and 60 x 47 cm, and showing the same seater. She is plump for being desirable by the son of the king, with sumptuous clothes and jewels which assess that her aristocratic affiliation was ineffective to avoid the drama.
The earlier painting has a terminus ante quem at 1511 linked to a parqueted preparation of its wood support, a short lived technique that was no longer proposed after that date. The gaze is straight but resigned. The tip of the blade reaches the skin just at the edge of the coat as if the woman still wanted to hide her act. It was sold for $ 5.1M including premium by Sotheby's on January 26, 2012.
The second painting brings subtle changes of attitude more in line with the heroic purpose of the allegory. The hand holding the dagger is firm. The tip of the blade under the bare breasts becomes the focus of the composition. The expression of the face is determined. Its terminus ante quem is 1514 based on a workshop copy that has been dated. It is estimated $ 2M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on February 1, lot 10.
Compared to these two paintings whose intense psychology follows Dürer and anticipates Titian, the many Lucretia later painted by Cranach are commercial works where the poor Roman heroine looks more and more like his Venus.
SOLD for $ 2.9M including premium