Among the widespread morality pictures of the Reformation period was the scene of Christ with the Adulteress. From Cranach's circle several dozen pictures with this theme have been preserved, the individual paintings of which are often similar, although the accompanying figures of the lawgivers, Pharisees and the Apostle Peter differ in placing, physiognomy, gestures and in the degree of caricature.
The expansion of this theme in art in Reformation Saxony is attributed first and foremost to Luther: in 1531 in Wittenberg the Reformer preached on Christ and the Adulteress and 1532 is the date of Cranach's painting in Budapest. A larger number of these depictions demonstrably originated, however, only after 1537 and later. Some of them are, like the present work, signed with a serpent with folded wings (the painter used the signature in this form mainly from 1537). Nevertheless the distribution of the picture of the adulteress cannot be ascribed to Luther alone.
Cranach had already painted a picture on this theme in 1509; a painting with the Adulteress was also ordered by an exponent of the German Catholic Church, Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, around 1520-1525, for the New Testament morality about sin and forgiveness was understandably also topical in Catholic circles. The character of the Prague painting of Christ and the Adulteress is considerably altered by later interventions in the lower part - there is additional painting of left hand of the man with the hammer on the left, the drapery and the left hand of Christ (in the other versions Christ holds the sinner by the hand) and the right hand of the woman. These parts were painted over and then painted in connection with the damage to the painting. Even though the additional painting is carried out in a Baroque style almost that of Caravaggio, it harmonises fairly well with the original painting and creates an effective whole.