Lucas Cranach the Younger

The stag in this drawing is a pricket—a male deer in its second year with short, unbranched antlers. In contrast to Two Dead Partridges, on view nearby, the animal was likely drawn from a live model, which allowed the artist to capture its taut, welldefined muscles and other anatomic features in great detail. The stag’s alert, slightly retreating posture and circumspect facial expression have also been convincingly described. Cranach the Elder and members of his workshop would have referred to such studies when painting their hunt scenes, which were celebrated for their high degree of naturalism. In a tribute written in 1509, humanist Christopher Scheurl claimed that the artist’s painted stags were so realistic that birds fell to the ground when trying to land on the antlers.

Lucas Cranach the Elder
German, 1472–1553
or Lucas Cranach the Younger
German, 1515–1586
Young Stag, ca. 1530–65
Watercolor over chalk or charcoal, heightened with white, outline partially reworked with white opaque watercolor
Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, INV. NO. C 1960-32
© Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Photo: Herbert Boswank