This article examines Lucas Cranach’s renderings of two non-extant silver gilt reliquaries made in the likeness of St. Eligius from the electoral Heiligtu. in Wittenberg. The significance of Eligius’s dual roles as both a metalworker for the Merovingian kings and as the bishop of Noyon bestowed the prince-electors in Wittenberg, most notably Frederick the Wise, with the ability to cleanse their treasury of all sin associated with indulgences. To explain the prominent place given to Eligius’s image in the collection, the article investigates his connection to French royalty, Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV’s valorization of his cult, the meaning attributed to his image in vernacular legends, and the evolving administrative role of bishops across the Middle Ages.
Photo Credits: 1 The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. – 2 Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, rba_171185. – 3, 8 Lucas Cranach and Symphorian Reinhart, Wittenberger Heiligthumsbuc. (Liebhaber-Bibliothek Alter Illustratoren, vol. 6), Wittenberg 1509, facsimile reproduction, Munich 1884. – 4 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. – 5 Ernestinisches Gesamtarchiv, Weimar. – 6 Dr. Stuart Whatling. – 7 Thüringer Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, Jena. – 9 Bibliothèque de la Ville de Paris. – 10 Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg.
© 2017 Stephanie Lebas Huber, published by De Gruyter