Luther's wife was Katharina von Bora and they married in 1525. Cranach would feature her in a number of different portraits, as did other artists who were connected to this influentual family. Martin was a devoted husband with a strong moral compass and they together formed a close bond and happy marriage. She herself was a former nun who had been helped to escape by Martin during a bizare series of events. From that point onwards, their bond could never be broken though her past made their relationship particularly controversial.

You may notice a small white line between this pair of portraits. That is because it is actually a diptych with the portraits of Luther and his Wife on opposing panels. Such an arrangement was common during this period, as were three-sided panelled artworks called triptyches too. The artist is known to have used egg tempera on beech wood to put together these two paintings, very much in line with the more traditional approach to art found in the Italian Renaissance. Both paintings are relatively small, at eleven inches tall by fourteen inches wide. They would naturally have to be the same size in order to complete the diptych correctly. Its format and small size suggests that perhaps this was intended to be used in a domestic setting, and perhaps may even have been gifted to the couple as a treasured present upon completion.

This artistically impressive and also culturally significant pair of portraits can now be found at the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt. Most of Cranach's work remains in Germany because his reputation did not reach quite the same international proportions as Albrecht Durer or some other members of the Northern Renaissance. That said, he is still well known abroad, and some of his artworks have been passed on to institutions in the United States. The Hessisches Landesmuseum itself features artworks gifted to it by ruling families in this region and offers an interesting selection of North European art, including Pieter Brueghel the Elder's The Magpie on the Gallows. You can also discover prints by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt amongst an exciting and varied collection.

Martin Luther and his Wife in Detail Lucas Cranach