The Castle Friedenstein’s Museum is Looking For the Missing Half of Lucas Cranach’s ‘John the Baptist’

Bowl With the Head of John the Baptist by Lucas Cranach the elder being restored Photo: Gotha Info

The Castle Friedenstein’s museum in Gotha, Germany, is searching for the second half of the painting Bowl With the Head of John the Baptist by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Monopol reports. An art dealer reportedly sawed the wood-panel artwork in half in 1936. He supposedly believed its gruesome and bloody depiction of John the Baptist’s severed head might put potential buyers off.

One half, which depicts the head of John the Baptist carried in a basket by the hands of a female figure, has found its way back to Gotha. However, the whereabouts of the other half, depicting the face of Salome, remain unknown. It was last seen on the market in the 1970s, but at the time was incorrectly identified as a portrait of Sybilla of Saxony.

In the past, the Friedenstein’s fragment was incorrectly tought to be a mere a copy of a Cranach painting, and neglected. The work was recently restored over a period of five months in Munich for the exhibition Picture and Message, Cranach at the Service of the Court, and the Reformation, which opens at the Castle Friedenstein’s museum on March 28. During the restoration process, the authenticity of the painting was confirmed. The exhibition will also feature the newly-attributed Cranach painting The Siege of Wolfenbüttel.

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