Restored Cranach Altar Unveiled after 50 Year Wait

The Cranach Altar (1555) pictured during a service at the Weimar Stadtkirche in Weimar, Germany Photo: Maik Schuck via weimar.de

The famous Cranach Altar (1555) located the Weimarer Stadtkirche, Germany has been restored to its former glory. The masterpiece of German Reformation-era art will be unveiled on Reformation Day, October 31st, in a televised church service, Die Welt reports.

The altar in the UNESCO-listed Stadtkirche is regarded as the premier Reformation-era altar from the studio of Lucas Cranach the elder (1472-1553). It was completed by Lucas Cranach the younger (1515-1586) two years after his father’s death.

According to Heinrich Herbst, superintendent of the city of Weimar, Friday will mark the first time in decades that the altar will be shown in its entirety. The late Gothic Church was destroyed during World War II and was reconstructed between 1948–1953. However, church officials elected to postpone renovating the altar to a later date. Thus, the painstaking process of restoring all three of the altar’s wings and decorative accessories only started several years ago.

The primary subject of the altar depicts Lucas Cranach the elder with Martin Luther (1483-1546), emphasizing the protestant political affiliations of the region’s ruling princes at the time and the members of the congregation.

On Friday, Bishop Ilse Junkermann is due to inaugurate the Cranach Altar on behalf of the central German Church of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt.


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