“A Faun and His Family with a Slain Lion”

Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Image of a Wild Man and His Family (ca. 1526)

Today Martine and I went to the Getty Center and spent an afternoon viewing the art. Above is one of those late Medieval paintings whose backgrounds are almost as interesting as their foregrounds. In the background of this particular painting is a mountainous rock with a castle perched on top. It seems as if the painting were divided vertically in two equal parts. In the darker half of the painting, the male faun sits on a rock with splayed toes beside the lion he has just killed. He wields a thick quarterstaff and has large pointed ears. He looks slightly haggard.

On the right hand side, we have his wife and two children—on the same side of the painting as the castle, lake,village, and mountains in the background. All three are gentle looking and seem to belong more to the world of civilization on the right hand side of the painting than to the husband and his prey.

I love paintings like this, because one could go on forever analyzing them and trying to understand their inner meaning.