The Rose

Luther's Rose

When the search began for the inscriptions, a parallel search was undertaken to discover the missing coat of arms. Websites devoted to heraldry were consulted and experts were contacted in the hope that someone could shed some light on the wavy outline. All pursuits were unsuccessful.

As seen in the below images, it was not unusual for Cranach to include a coat of arms within a portrait composition.

Lucas Cranach the Elder
Nicholas de Backer (ca. 1509)
The Royal Collection Trust
London, England

Lucas Cranach the Elder
Portrait of a Bride (ca. 1505)
Germanisches Nationalmuseum
Nuremberg, Germany

It is possible that Martin Luther had his own seal and it was this symbol that was originally in the lower-left corner. As a signing device for his publications, Luther designed a seal that included a central black cross within a red heart enveloped by a white rose against a blue background ringed in gold. In 1530, while Luther was sequestered at Wartburg Castle, Frederick the Wise of Saxony presented him with a signet ring carrying this composition. The seal is known today as Luther’s Rose.

Luther's Rose Example 1

Luther's Rose Example 2

Luther's Rose Example 3

While the contours are similar to those in Luther's Rose, the loss area appears to have four or eight sections as opposed to the five or ten in the Rose. Also, the missing coat of arms has a vertical format, whereas Luther’s Rose is circular.

Scraped-Out Coat of Arms

Luther's Rose Example 4

In his description of Schreiberhofen’s Luther, Schuchardt recorded: in the lower left-hand corner a coat of arms, probably from earlier owners, emblazoned also with Luther's Rose. Two points are important in this description: first, Schuchardt did not recognize the coat of arms thus severing a potential provenancial thread; and second, he did not document the composition of how the coat of arms and Luther's Rose were configured.

For Katharina’s entry, Schuchardt noted: It has the same coat-of-arms painted in the upper right. For this entry, he does not mention the Rose, only the coat of arms, but one could easily infer that the two representations were the same.

One can only speculate as to why the coat of arms was removed from the Muskegon panel. Possibly, a later owner’s hubris did not permit “his” Cranach referencing a previous collection. Or perhaps it was removed to conceal evidence of proper ownership. No documentation exists to support either possibility. (25)

Page 8--Final Thoughts

Index Page,   Page 1--Introduction,   Page 2--Short Biographies,   Page 3--Examination,   Page 4--Treatment,
Page 5--The Hunt,   Page 6--The Inscriptions,   Page 7--The Rose,   Page 8--Final Thoughts,
Page 9--Endnotes


25. The museum has listed their paintings with the Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal Project. To date, no one has claimed ownership. Also, the portraits were acquired in early 1939, somewhat prior to the period of systemic Nazi looting.



Barry Bauman Conservation
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