The Fountain of Youth, Lucas Cranach the Elder

The Fountain of Youth, Lucas Cranach the Elder
The Fountain of Youth, Lucas Cranach the Elder

The inexorable destiny of all men is death regardless of their sex, age or social status and precisely for this reason, all cultures have tried to find magic formulas that help avoid the fateful destiny that awaits us, one of these most popular formulas is the myth of the fountain of youth: according to legend whoever drinks or bathes in the mystical fountain can achieve eternal youth and even immortality.


The legend has been very popular in different cultures, and ancient historians like Herodotus echoed a spring that allowed Ethiopians to live up to 120 years, but also in the Persian chronicles, in those of Alexander Magno or even in the Bible itself speaks of the healing power of the mythical source. But it was precisely in the Middle Ages, with a Christianized version of the myth of the fountain of youth, that it reached its peak and during the Modern Age the myth was revalued again with the discoveries of the New World in fact, it seems that Ponce de León was looking for the source in his discovery of the Florida peninsula.

The work we are analyzing here is an interpretation of the German painter Lucas Cranach the Elder of The Fountain of Youth. It is an oil on panel dating from 1546 that is about one hundred and eighty-five meters wide and one hundred and twenty-two meters high; currently thepiece is exhibited in the Berlin Pinacoteca. The artist has established a composition that is divided into two well-differentiated zones marked by the fountain of Venus that appears in the middle of a pond.

In the left area of ​​the composition we can see a barren and wild landscape, with rocky mountains and scarce vegetation; A good number of women arrive in this area, each one of them in a different way depending on their social status (by car, helped by their relatives, etc.) they all undress to enter the miraculous waters and it is in the right area of the composition where the miracle has been wrought, the women return to being young people with smooth bodies and beautiful faces. Some dance, cover themselves modestly and others laugh or kiss each other. The ladies who come out of the fountain go to a dressing room, where a man is waiting to open the door for them. The right area of ​​the composition is completed with a green and leafy meadow where the ladies enjoy music and a spectacular banquet.

Popular topic