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Lucas Cranach the Elder

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Portrait of Joachim II, Elector of Brandenburg, 1529

About the Artwork

This portrait of Elector Joachim II (German, 1505-1571) depicts the ruler as heir apparent, six years before he assumed the electoral dignity. It is the companion to Cranach's portrait of Joachim's wife, Magdalena of Saxony (1507-1534), now at the Art Institute of Chicago. Joachim's pearl-decorated doublet displays two repeated motifs: the head of a jester and the letter M. Each M is topped with a heart and crown, probably in playful reference to Magdalena as the queen of Joachim's heart. The jesters may allude to the widespread notion that folly accompanies love.

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