- Also known as
primary name: Baldung, Hans
other name: Grien
- individual; painter/draughtsman; printmaker; German; Male
- Life dates
- Hans Baldung was one of the most idiosyncratic artists of the German Renaissances. He came from Schwäbisch- Gmund in south-west Germany, and worked in Dürer’s studio in Nuremberg from 1503 to about 1507 where he carried out commissions for his master while Dürer travelled in Italy from 1505-7. Subsequently he spent most of his life in Strasbourg, apart from the period 1512-17 when he worked in Freiburg-in-Breisgau on an altarpiece, the Coronation of the Virgin, which is considered his masterpiece and is still to be seen today in the cathedral in Freiburg. The high payment he received for this commission made him financially secure for the rest of his life. Dürer maintained a close friendship with Baldung, the most talented of his pupils, throughout his life. On Dürer's death in 1528, a lock of his hair was sent to Baldung as a memento. Baldung was a highly original artist, and his idiosyncratic style, with its expressive use of line, unusual tonal contrasts and asymmetric compositions, is already apparent in his earliest signed and dated painting, the 'St Sebastian' altarpiece of 1507 and in his prints made soon after this date. The origin of his nickname, Grien, to which the G in his monogram used from 1507 refers, is unclear. Possibly first coined by Dürer, it may point to a predilection for the colour green or may come from 'Grienhans', meaning devil, with reference to the demonic fantasies which appear in some of his work. Eighty-nine of his paintings are known to have survived. He was a prolific draughtsman and printmaker throughout his career, producing some 250 drawings, many of them for stained glass, and designing about 550 woodcuts, of which just over 400 were for book illustrations. The prints and drawings he produced during his latter years include increasingly bizarre images of witchcraft, sexuality and death. He was a well-respected figure and in 1545 he became a councillor of Strasbourg.
- See Rowlands 1993, p.30 and G. Bartrum, 'German Renaissance Prints, 1995, p.68 for early literature; C Müller et al. 'Dürer Holbein Grünewald' exh.cat Basel and Berlin, 1997, pp.195ff; S. Duran-Ress, 'Hans Baldung Grien in Freiburg', exh.cat. Freiburg im Breisgau, Augustinermuseum, 2001; B.Brinkmann, 'Hexenlust und Sündenfall / Witches' Lust and the Fall of Man', exh.cat. Frankfurt am Main, Städel Museum, 2007.