A Faun and His Family with a Slain Lion

Object Details


A Faun and His Family with a Slain Lion


Lucas Cranach the Elder (German, 1472 - 1553)




about 1526


Oil on panel


82.9 x 56.2 cm (32 5/8 x 22 1/8 in.)

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Lucas Cranach the Elder drew from both native German and classical literary sources to depict a family of fauns in a woodland clearing. Although the precise subject of this painting remains obscure, it recalls the legendary "wild man" found in medieval mythology, as well as idyllic forest dwellers, such as fauns, described in Greek poetry.

The male faun sits on a rock, staff in hand, with a slain lion at his feet. He gazes toward a woman--presumably his wife--and their children. Dark foliage mediates between them and a stunning landscape: a lake, a village, mountains, and a castle in the distance. Isolated and protected from civilization, these figures represent the wild traits of mankind. On the other hand, the faun's humanlike appearance, the woman's calm demeanor, and the baby's tender gesture suggest more civilized aspects of society.

Aside from this broader narrative, Cranach's finely worked style draws attention to incidental elements, such as the lion's fur and a man and a horse and cart climbing the castle-topped mountain. The lion's stylized body fits perfectly in the painting's lower left corner. Such attention to detail and Cranach's complex subject matter appealed to the refined tastes of his learned, courtly patrons.

by 1598

Possibly Prince Elector Maximilian I, 1573 - 1651

Possibly Lumley Family

by 1948 -

Spink & Son, Ltd. (London, England), sold to Robert Bland Bird.

by 1952 - 1960

Sir Robert Bland Bird, second Bart., British, 1876 - 1960 (London, England, The White House, Solihull, Warwickshire, England), by inheritance to his only child, Pamela Stephanie Helen Bird, 1960.

1960 -

Pamela Stephanie Helen Bird, viscountess de Mauduit (Paris, France)

by 1963

Dr. Otto Wertheimer (Paris, France), sold to Max Schmidheiny, 1963.

1963 - 1991

Dr. h. c. Max Schmidheiny, 1908 - 1991 (Zürich, Switzerland), by inheritance to his son, Thomas Schmidheiny, 1991.

1991 - 2003

Dr. Thomas Schmidheiny (Zürich, Switzerland), sold through Hall & Knight, Ltd., (London, England) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003.

Works of Art from Midland Houses (July 18 to September 6, 1953) (Cat. 145)
  • Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, (Birmingham), July 18 to September 6, 1953
German Art 1400 - 1800 from Collections in Great Britain (October 24 to December 10, 1961) (Cat. 84)
  • Manchester City Galleries, (Manchester), October 24 to December 10, 1961
Lukas Cranach: Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik (June 15 to September 8, 1974) (Cat. 500)
  • Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, June 15 to September 8, 1974
Temptation in Eden: Lucas Cranach's Adam and Eve (June 21 to September 23, 2007) (Cat. 4)
  • Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, (London), June 21 to September 23, 2007
Lucas Cranach: Meisterwerke (November 23, 2007 to June 8, 2008) (Cat. 106)
  • Städtische Galerie im Städelsches Kunstinstitut, (Frankfurt), November 23, 2007 to February 17, 2008
Lucas Cranach: L'altro Rinascimento (October 13, 2010 to February 13, 2011) (Cat. 106)
  • Museo e Galleria Borghese, (Rome), October 13 to February 13, 2010

Waterhouse, Ellis Kirkham. Notebooks, 67 vols., 1924-85, Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute, accession no. 870204 vol. 29 (July 1948-June 1949), p. 32 (December 22, 1948); vol. 32 (November 1950-May 1952), pp. 211-212 (May 14, 1952).

Waterhouse, Ellis K. "Some Notes on the Exhibition of 'Works of Art from Midland Houses' at Birmingham." The Burlington Magazine 95, no. 606 (September 1953) p. 306.

Works of Art from Midland Houses, exh. cat. (Birmingham: Museum & Art Gallery, 1953) p. 29, no. 145.

Grossmann, F. G. German Art 1400-1800 from Collections in Great Britain, exh. cat. (Manchester: Art Gallery, 1961) p. 36, no. 84, cover ill.

Levey, Michael and Christopher White. "The German Exhibition at Manchester." Burlington Magazine 103, no. 705 (December 1961) p. 487.

Pieper, Paul. "Deutsche Kunst 1400-1800. Ausstellung in der City of Manchester Art Gallery." Kunstchronik 15, no. 1 (January 1962) pp. 3-4.

Koepplin, Dieter, and Tilman Falk. Lukas Cranach: Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik. 2 vols. (Basel: Kunstmuseum, with Birkhäuser Verlag, 1974) vol. 1, p. 38, fig. 1; p. 317, pl. 19; p. 430; vol. 2, pp. 600-601, no. 500.

Friedländer, Max, and Jakob Rosenberg. The Paintings of Lucas Cranach (London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1978) p. 122, no. 267, pl. 267.

Glaser, Hubert, ed. Mitteilungen des Hauses der Bayerischen Geschichte. Vol. 1, Quellen und Studien zur Kunstpolitik der Wittelsbacher vom 16. bis zum 18. Jarhundert (Munich: Hirmer, 1980) pp. 133, 139, pl. 34, fig. 62.

Bachtler, Monika, Peter Diemer, and Johannes Erichsen. "Die Bestände von Maximilians I. Kammergalerie. Das Inventar von 1641/1642." In Quellen und Studien zur Kunstpolitik der Wittelsbacher vom 16. bis zum 18. Hubert Glaser, ed. (Munich: Hirmer, 1980) p. 250, no. XV, 35.

Bierende, Edgar. Lucas Cranach d. Ä. und der deutsche Humanismus: Tafelmalerei im Kontext von Rhetorik, Chroniken und Fürstenspiegeln (Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2002) p. 423, note 377.

Koepplin, Dieter. "Ein Cranach-Prinzip." In Lucas Cranach: Glaube, Mythologie und Moderne, exh. cat. Werner Schade, ed. (Hamburg: Bucerius Kunst Forums, 2003) p. 159, fig. 86.

Campbell, Caroline, ed. Temptation in Eden: Lucas Cranach's Adam and Eve, exh. cat. (London: Courtauld Institute of Art, 2007) p. 79, under no. 1; p. 81, under no. 2; p. 85, under no. 3; pp. 88-9, no. 4, ill., entry by Anne Woollett; p. 122, under no. 16.

Brinkmann, Bodo, et al. Cranach der Ältere, exh. cat. (Frankfurt: Städel Museum, 2007) p. 324, ill.; pp. 340-41, no. 106, ill., entry by Gabriel Dette; p. 364, under no. 118.

Evans, Mark. "'Die Italiener, sonst so ruhmsüchtig, bieten Dir die Hand': Lucas Cranach und die Kunst des Humanismus." In Cranach der Ältere, exh. cat. Bodo Brinkmann et al. (Frankfurt: Städel Museum, 2007) p. 58.

Koepplin, Dieter. "Cranachs Bilder der Caritas im theologischen und humanistischen Geiste Luthers und Melanchthons." In Cranach der Ältere, exh. cat. Bodo Brinkmann et al. (Frankfurt: Städel Museum, 2007) p. 73.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007) p. 95, ill.

Foister, Susan. "Before the Fall: Adam and Eve and Some Mythological Paintings by Cranach." In Temptation in Eden: Lucas Cranach's Adam and Eve, exh. cat. Caroline Campbell, ed. (London: Courtauld Institute of Art, 2007) p. 59.

Parshall, Peter. "Reviews: Parshall on Cranach [...] Caroline Campbell, ed., Temptation in Eden: Lucas Cranach's 'Adam and Eve.'" The Art Bulletin 91, no. 2 (June 2009) pp. 239-40.

Doherty, Tiarna, and Anne T. Woollett. Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009) pp. 23-24, 58, ill.

Coliva, Anna and Bernard Aikema, eds. Cranach: L'altro Rinascimento - A Different Renaissance, exh. cat. (Milan: Galleria Borghese, with 24 ORE Cultura, 2010) pp. 22, 23, 152-55, 156, no. 8, ill.

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