Heinrich Aldegrever (Biographical details)

Heinrich Aldegrever (printmaker; painter/draughtsman; German; Male; 1501/2 - 1555/61; approx. dates)

Also known as

Aldegrever, Heinrich


His family name was Trippenmeker (clog-maker) and his family came from Paderborn. In about 1525 he moved to nearby Soest, where he entered the painter's guild c.1526-7 and became a citizen in 1530. His father was a zealous reformer - he had demanded unsuccessfully to be executed along with sixteen citizens of Paderborn arrested during a religious uprising in 1532 - and it is likely that Heinrich strongly sympathised with the Protestant cause (although his explicit and obviously propagandist engravings of a monk and a nun engaged in sexual activity, Bartsch, 178-9, may have been commissioned). Nothing is recorded of his training, but many of his figures reveal the influence of Antwerp artists of the period, as well as Dürer (whose monogram he a imitated) Lucas van Leyden (q.v) and for his ornament prints, the Italian engraver Zoan Andrea (q.v). Between 1527 and 1555 Aldegrever produced nearly 300 engravings, three etchings on iron and ten designs for woodcuts. Many were engraved in the finely detailed manner of the Nuremberg 'Little Masters', the Beham brothers and Georg Pencz, some of whose work he copied; but Aldegrever's more mannered style can always be distinguished from their prints by his slim, attenuated figures and puckered, agitated drapery. His striking engraved portraits of Jan van Leyden, the leader of the Anabaptists, a radical religious sect, and his colleague Bernd Knipperdolling (Bartsch, 182-3) were widely copied and are among his best-known works. Only two paintings have been firmly attributed to him: the wings and predella of an altarpiece with scenes from the Life of the Virgin, of c.1525-6, in the Wiesenkirche, Soest, and a portrait of Duke Phillip III of Waldeck (Schloss Arolsen). He may also have practised as a goldsmith, and in 1552 he cut silver seals for the Duke of Cleves. A number of his preparatory drawings for engravings have survived, of which the largest single collection comes from an album assembled in 1637 by Peter Spiering Silfvercrona, now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (see 1911,0708.116 for a series of prints by Gerung from the Silfvercrona collection).


H. Zschelletzschky, 'Das Graphische Werk Heinrich Aldegrevers: Ein Beitrag zu seinem Stil im Rahmen der deutschen Stilentwicklung', Strasbourg, 1933; A. Shestack, 'Some Preliminary Drawings for Engravings by Heinrich Aldegrever', 'Master Drawings', viii, New York, 1970, pp. 141ff.; 'Heinrich Aldegrever: Die Kleinmeister und das Kunsthandwerk der Renaissance', exh. cat., edited by K. B. Heppe, Kreis Unna, Evangelische Stadtkirche, 1986; J. Luckhardt and A. Lorenz, 'Heinrich Aldegrever und die Bildnisse der Wiedertäufer'.