An oil on panel by Lucas Cranach the Older (1472-1533) representing Venus and Eros tempting her went for 17,5 million FF (US $ 2,340,000) (Not inclusive of buyer's premium) on December 4th 2000 at Drouot in Paris.
This 52 x 36.5 cm work dated 1538 only carried a 2 million Ff estimate and such bid was the highest recorded in France for the season.
Cranach was official painter at the court of Saxony and treated the themes of love several times. Truly speaking this painting was attractive enough to induce a high price though no one expected it would reach such altitude.
This painting showed Eros stung by a bee seeking the help of Venus, his mother, who has an ironical smile and whose eyes seem to indicate that Eros' arrows are more formidable than the wounds inflicted by insect bites.
Cranach painted many versions of this painting sold by the Rieuner group but in this one showed Eros' right hand caught in a beehive suggesting pleasures and sufferings that enabled the artist to represent two antagonistic themes regarding Eros in the same work.
There was no doubt about the authenticity of this painting signed by Cranach with his monogram representing a winged serpent that he started to use in 1537.
The main problem with Cranach lies in the fact that he painted numerous works and often received the assistance of pupils and of his son, a fact that explain a certain discrepancy in prices regarding this artist as it is quite difficult to ascertain the authorship of certain works.
The highest price fetched for a work by Cranach were “The Judgement of Paris”, a 43 x 32.2 cm oil on panel of around 1512-14, sold for £ 1,98 million at Sotheby's in December 1996 in London and for a pair of 41.3 x 31 cm portraits representing Kursfurst Herzog Johann and his son of around 1509, sold for £ 4,84 million by Christie's in July 1990 in London.
Meanwhile, “Hercules' choice”, a 63. x 45.4 cm painting representing the Greek hero surrounded by two naked women, was sold for £ 1,59 million by Sotheby's in December 1998 in London whereas the portrait of a young woman measuring 86 x 55 cm and dated 1530 fetched £ 1,27 million at Sotheby's last July.
Usually paintings by Cranach sell between $ 400,000 and 650,000 while those painted by his son are usually worth between $ 50,000 and 100,000 though one of his paintings fetched $ 211,000 at auction.