Cover to Be Unveiled: How Meaning Is Revealed with Sheer Veils in Paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

School of Art and Art History, College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Scott Montgomery

Second Advisor

Annette Stott


Lucas Cranach 1472-1553, Criticism and interpretation, Art, German, Women in art, Veils in art, Painting, 16th century, Themes, Motives


While scholars have questioned the meaning of Lucas Cranach the Elder’s sheer veils when associated with sensual nude figures, research about sheer veils adorning women in a religious context in his paintings has not yet been developed. Through a primarily iconographical approach, I explore who dons each type of veil, and when, to better understand why the same sheer veil is worn differently by various individuals and what that could mean relative to Cranach’s body of work. These veils exhibit artistic prowess, but analysis of their placement on individual figures also reveals how Cranach’s repeated use of sheer veils in his paintings trains the eye on underlying messages, unlocking meanings of these works for Cranach and his patrons and broader themes present in sixteenth century visual culture. My paper initiates this important discussion about how sheer veils – often overlooked in Cranach’s works – are used in both religious and secular contexts.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

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