Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, c. 1535-1540
Lucas (the Elder) Cranach
oil on beech
84 x 118 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 3694)
“Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” With these words Jesus rebukes the men who have gathered to demand that he condemn her and sanction her death. The punishment for adultery was death by stoning, and the man in armour already grasps a rock. The figures press inward – a jumble of expressive faces and glances, with the accusers to the left and Christ’s disciples to the right. Jesus, who holds the woman’s arm in a protective gesture, is the calm centre of the tumult. A celebration of divine mercy, this was a favourite subject, and Cranach and his workshop painted many variations on it.
Frame: running moulding inlaid with marquetry. Germany, late 16th – first half 17th century