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
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