The Protestant rulers of Saxony commissioned this animated hunt scene, set near their residence seen in the background, Hartenfels Castle (in eastern Germany). John Frederick the Magnanimous, in the bottom left corner, wears dark green hunting attire; he spans his crossbow and waits for his courtiers and dogs to chase a stag across the river. His wife, the Electress Sibylle, stands at right, poised to take the first ceremonial shot. The prince electors of Saxony were passionate practitioners of hunting with dogs — elaborate, highly rehearsed occasions, coordinated by the use of signals from hunting horns. Cranach dated this work and his signature is the winged snake at lower right. 1577 in the right corner is an inventory number.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art.