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Woodcut - Sybilla of Cleves
  • Sybilla of Cleves
    Cranach, Lucas the elder I, born 1472 - died 1553
  • Enlarge image

Sybilla of Cleves

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Wittenberg (made)

  • Date:

    after 1526 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cranach, Lucas the elder I, born 1472 - died 1553 (artist)
    Sybilla of Cleves (sitter)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woodcut on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case TOPIC, shelf 6A

Lucas Cranach is best known for his paintings. He also made woodcuts for his patron Elector Frederick III of Saxony, for whom he was court artist from 1504. This is a woodcut portrait of Sybilla of Cleves, who married the Elector’s nephew in 1527. The unusual framing device suggests that it was most likely copied from a painted portrait by Cranach.

Cranach’s workshop, run by himself and his two sons with the help of assistants, produced numerous painted or woodcut portraits of the Electors and their circle. The faces were often copied from oil studies kept in the workshop for the purpose, because the Cranachs relied on assistants to fulfil the large number of commissions.

The frame added to this image has shading on the top and left sides as though it is casting a shadow. We do not know how this print was used but the trompe l’oeil frame suggests that the portrait could have been intended for display on a wall.

Physical description

Head and shoulders portrait of Sybilla of Cleves with two coats arms behind, one elector of Saxony. She is expensively dressed with strings of necklaces, a head-dress and brimmed hat from which hangs a pendant.

Place of Origin

Wittenberg (made)


after 1526 (made)


Cranach, Lucas the elder I, born 1472 - died 1553 (artist)
Sybilla of Cleves (sitter)

Materials and Techniques

Woodcut on paper

Marks and inscriptions

[watermark, undecipherable, looks like a vertical scroll (document) or part of a tree branch, with a mass to the left but rest difficult to read]
Top centre (hat area)


Height: 36.5 cm trimmed, Width: 28.4 cm trimmed

Object history note

Purchased from G Lauser, April 27 1885.

Historical context note

Sybilla of Cleves married the Elector's nephew John Frederick (future Elector) in 1527. This is one of several portraits of her by Cranach.

Descriptive line

Portrait of Sybilla of Cleves, woodcut, Lucas Cranach; Wittenberg, Germany, after 1526.


Ink; Paper



Subjects depicted



Prints; Portraits; Woodcuts


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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