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Art in the Holy Roman Empire

The Judgement of Paris©

In the sixteenth century, the Holy Roman Empire was a confederation of states roughly equivalent to modern-day Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. Under the Emperor Maximilian I (ruled 1493 – 1519), whose Triumphal Cart is displayed downstairs, art flourished. The success of Dürer, who lived and worked in the south of the Empire, influenced a generation of artists, including Hans Baldung Grien and Hans Schäufelein, from Dürer’s workshop. The Swiss city of Basel was another centre of production: Hans Holbein the Younger worked as a painter and as a book illustrator for the publisher Johannes Froben, while Urs Graf produced idiosyncratic prints and drawings and ran the city mint.

The Reformation was felt most strongly in the Empire. It was in Wittenberg, under the protection of Frederick the Wise, that Martin Luther first questioned the basis of the established faith, launching a debate across Europe. At Frederick’s court, Lucas Cranach the Elder painted mythological and historical subjects.

Cranach’s elegant nudes and detailed exploration of northern landscape motifs proved popular enough for his workshop to produce numerous versions of such subjects as Lucretia and The Judgement of Paris.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.