Hans Baldung AKA Hans Baldung Grien (1480-1545)

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Eve, The Serpent and Death

Hans Baldung Grien was a Renaissance-era German painter, and is considered one of Dürer’s finest students. He was born in Swabia, however he lived in Strassburg and Breisgau for most of his life. He is commonly known as Hans Baldung, but he is also known as Grien or Grün. Though Baldung’s work is sometimes panned by art critics, others call him the Corregio of the north and praise him for his interesting and unique style. He was a master of woodcuts and engraving as well.

Aristotle and a Girl

Sabat

The Conversion of Saint Paul

Baldung’s earliest attributed paintings are dated in 1496, when the artist would have been only 16, and are altarpieces for a monastery near Baden-Baden. These pieces are inscribed with an “H.B”, as well as his early sketches and a portrait of Emperor Maximilian. Early in his career, he secured a number of commissions for government halls, churches and cathedrals.

Saint Anne with the Christ Child, the Virgin and Saint John the Baptist

Saint John on Patmos

The Mass of Saint Gregory

Very little is known of Baldung’s training, though it is speculated by art historians that he was in fact a pupil of Dürer. However, as an established painter, Baldung was a prominent member of the towns in which he resided, and was even a part of the town council of Strassburg until his death in 1545. His status as a prominent social figure was also surely one of the reasons that Baldung was also highly sought after as a portrait painter.

Count Christoph I of Baden

Count Philip

Adelberg III

Portrait of a Young Man

Portrait of a Lady

Some art critics have disregarded Baldung for his unpleasant depictions of the human form and face. One of his calling cards, in fact, is the flat pug-like features given to his subject, and the awkward composition of their anatomy. Baldung’s treatment of human skin tones has also been under scrutiny by art critics as having no tonality or depth. However, his attention to detail in his landscapes and backgrounds is remarkable and very ornamental and baroque-like in style.

A Girl and Death

Adam

Another blatant calling card of Baldung’s is his clashing and even sometimes less than aesthetically pleasing color palette. It was typical of him to contrast dark and gritty tones with pale yellow and bright green and red. One may assume that with all of these blatant artistic mistakes, Baldung may well have been a self-taught artist, but perhaps he was simply experimental. One also only has to look at his oeuvre to realize that he used death and the age of man (or woman, as Baldung seemed to prefer) as his central theme.

The Seven Ages of Woman

Three Ages of the Woman and Death

The Knight, the Young Girl and Death

Today, Baldung’s work is housed all over Europe and the United States, and perhaps in your own home. Still wondering about a striking or even somewhat odd Renaissance-era German painting or portrait in your family’s estate? Contact us…it could be by Hans Baldung.