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The Fourth TournamentEnlarge image

The Fourth Tournament, 1509

Lucas (the Elder) Cranach
German, 1472 - 1553
woodcut on laid paper
29.3 x 41.2 cm
Purchased 1993
National Gallery of Canada (no. 37117)

During the medieval period, jousting was a grave endeavor – participants fought to the death for justice and honour. By the sixteenth century, however, such confrontations had become merely sporting events. The Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian, who had an avid interest in this form of spectacle, prompted courts throughout Saxony to sponsor similar games. To document this colourful aspect of court life, artists were commissioned to produce highly ornate scenes complete with elaborate suits of armour, plumed helmets and armoured horses. In this woodcut, Cranach illustrates a large tournament organized by Friedrich the Wise that took place in the market square of Wittenberg on the 15 and 16 November 1508.

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