Hans Baldung, known as Hans Baldung Grien/Grün (1484/85-1545). German Renaissance artist as painter and printmaker in woodcut. He was considered the most gifted student of Albrecht Dürer, but his brilliant color, expressive use of distortion, and taste for the gruesome bring him closer in spirit to his other great German contemporary, Grünewald.
The son of a lawyer, he was born at Schwäbisch Gmünd in Swabia, Germany, and moved to Strassburg in 1492. Grien joined Dürer's Nuremberg workshop in 1503, likely following initial training in Strassburg, and stayed until 1507. He seems to have been left in charge of the workshop during Dürer's second trip to Italy. In his later trip to the Netherlands in 1521, Dürer's diary shows that he took with him and sold prints by Baldung. On Dürer's death Baldung was sent a lock of his hair, which suggests a close friendship.
His output was varied and extensive, including religious works, allegories and mythologies, portraits, designs for stained glass and tapestries, and a large body of graphic work, particularly book illustrations. He was active mainly in Strasburg, but from 1512 to 1517 he lived in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, where he worked on his masterpiece, the high altar for Freiburg Cathedral, the center panel of which is a radiant "Coronation of the Virgin". His most characteristic paintings, however, are fairly small in scale.
His paintings are less important than his prints. He worked mainly in woodcut, although he made six engravings. He joined in the fashion for chiaroscuro woodcuts, adding a tone block to a woodcut of 1510. Most of his hundreds of woodcuts were commissioned for books, as was usual at the time. Baldung's prints, though Düreresque, are very individual in style, and often in subject. They show little direct Italian influence.
His works are mainly interesting because of the wild and fantastic strength which some of them display.
"The Knight, the Young Girl, and Death" Oil on wood, 35.5 x 29.6 cm - 14 x 11.7 in. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France.
"Martyrdom of St Sebastian; Sebastian Altarpiece" (1507) Wood, 121,2 × 78,6 cm - 47.7 x 30.9 in. Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany.
"Count Philip" (1517) Wood, 41 x 31 cm - 16.1 x 12.2 in. Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany.
"Ludwig, Count von Löwenstein" (1513) Oil on wood. Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, Germany.
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"Beheading of St Dorothea" (1516) Tempera on wood, 78 x 61 cm - 30.7 x 24 in.
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"Portrait of a Lady" (1530) Oil on wood panel, 69.2 x 52.5 cm - 27.2 x 20.7 in. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, Spain.
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"Nativity" (1510) Tempera on wood. Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
Text source: various.