Hans Baldung, called 'Grien', The Virgin and Child and the Dove of the Holy Spirit, a drawing

Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany, AD 1512-17

Hans Baldung (about 1485-1545) was a highly imaginative and original artist. Today he is chiefly remembered for his images of witchcraft, superstition and the erotic. His nickname 'Grien' (Green) was given to him when he was in Dürer's workshop in Nuremberg. It may have served to distinguish him from other apprentices also called Hans.

Seated on a flowery bank, the Virgin Mary holds the infant Jesus in her arms and is attended by two playful putti (angel or young, plump boy). In the lower left corner a tree stump and spray of flowers create a visual balance to the Virgin's long, flowing locks. The Dove of the Holy Spirit hovers and casts Divine rays over the scene. A putto in the lower right corner gently tugs at her cloak, while his playmate dominates the sky above, pulling the Virgin's drapery with him.

A superb example of Baldung's mature style, this sketch was probably drawn during the period 1512 to 1517 when the artist was working at Freiburg-im-Breisgau. The figures in pen and black ink, heightened with white, stand out against the chocolate brown paper. His masterly use of the white heightening is most visible in the Virgin's cloak. As it rises into the air, the curved hatching in white contrasts with the deeper shadows inside, shown in ink.

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More information


J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)

J. Rowlands and G. Bartrum, Drawings by German artists in, 2 vols. (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)

G. Bartrum, German Renaissance prints, 149, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)


Height: 279.000 mm
Width: 195.000 mm

Museum number

PD SL 5218-179



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