Martin Schongauer (Biographical details)

Martin Schongauer (printmaker; painter/draughtsman; German; Male; c.1440/53 - 1491)

Also known as

Schongauer, Martin; Schön, Martin


Painter and engraver. One of five sons of a goldsmith, Caspar Schongauer (active 1440-81), who was a native of Augsburg and citizen of Colmar from 1445. Martin Schongauer is first documented in the matriculation register of Leipzig University, winter term 1465, as a Bavarian (Erler, ‘Leipzig’, p. 254) when he was presumably in his early teens. He is described as a 'young apprentice' in an inscription by Dürer on a Schongauer drawing of 1470 (Rupprich, i, pp. 208f., no. 58). He was much influenced by Rogier van der Weyden (q.v), after whose ‘Last Judgement’ altarpiece at Beaune in Burgundy he made a drawing of ‘Christ in Judgement’, dated 1469 by Dürer (Paris, Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins). He may also have travelled to the Netherlands during this period and possibly also to Spain and Portugal (first suggested by Flechsig, and supported by Anzelewsky and Koch). He had established a workshop in Colmar by 1471 (payments are recorded for an altarpiece for the Dominican church there, a workshop production now in the Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar). One of his most exceptional paintings, the 'Virgin and Child in a Rose Garden' is dated 1473 (Dominican church in Colmar) and the discovery of his remarkable study of a peony (Los Angeles, J.Paul Getty Museum) for this painting was published by Fritz Koreny in 1991. He is recorded as a citizen of Breisach on 15 June 1489, where he executed wall-paintings of the ‘Last Judgement’ for the Münster (in situ, damaged). He specialised in small devotional panels of the Virgin and Child and associated themes (Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt ). Schongauer was regarded with high esteem by his contemporaries and he had numerous followers. The portrait of Schongauer in Munich (Alte Pinakothek) is inscribed on the back by the artist Thoman Burgkmair (q.v) “Mayster Martin Schongauer Maler genent Hipsch / Martin von wegen seiner Kunst . . . 1488' with a line added by his son Hans Burgkmair (q.v) describing himself as Schongauer's apprentice. His work is best appreciated through his engravings, impressions of which have survived in fairly large numbers. They are the first significant group of prints to be produced by a painter rather than a goldsmith, and their popularity is verified by the hundreds of copies which have survived (many listed by Lehrs).


Lehrs V; N.G. Stogdon, Catalogue X, 'Martin Schongauer', 1996; Rowlands 1993; Lehrs, v-vi, 1925, 1927; Hollstein German XLIX, 1999 (for further lit); U. Heinrichs, 'Martin Schongauer Maler und Kupferstecher: Kunst und Wissenschaft unter dem Primat des Sehens', Munich and Berlin, 2007; A.U. Koch, 'Der botanische Nachweis einer Reise Martin Schongauer zur Iberischen Halbinsel' in Mitteilungen der Deutschen Dendrologischen Gesellschaft. 93, 2008, pp.69-76; R.Suckale,'Die Erneuerung der Malkunst vor Dürer', Petersberg, 2009, vol. 1, pp.215-241