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Hans Grien-Baldung (c.1480-1545)

( Originally Published 1955 )

German painter and draughtsman, and a designer of woodcuts and stained glass. He was a friend of Durer's and very probably studied under him in Nuremberg in the early years of the sixteenth century. In 1509 he acquired burgher's rights in Strasbourg and settled there permanently. From 1512 to 1516, however, he worked at Freiburg-in-Breisgau, creating his masterpiece on the high altar of the cathedral there. He adorned the central panel with the Coronation of the Virgin and the wings with other scenes from her life. Baldung was an extremely gifted and imaginative artist, whose great talents were directed toward the expression of complicated mood, and sober, often tragic feeling. The delineation of the human form was his special interest and he endowed postures and silhouettes with a peculiarly personal, expressive and rhythmic grace. The popular German theme o# "Death and the Maiden" gave him an opportunity to make the most of rich female forms by allowing him to contrast them with ghastly skeletons and create complex, closely interwoven designs. His drawings are especially fine and his woodcuts impressive and full of invention. The Markgraf Christof of Baden, whose portrait he painted more than once, was Baldung's special patron.

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