Hans Baldung, born in 1484/85 in Gmünd (Schwabia), German painter and engraver, the most gifted of Dürer’s pupils, worked in Nürnberg in 1503-07. Since 1509 till the end of his life he lived in Strasbourg, save for 1512-1516, when he painted the grandiose altar for the local cathedral in Freiburg. In his style, Baldung was influenced by the great masters of the German Renaissance, first of all by Dürer, but also by Cranach the Elder and partly by Grünewald and Altdorfer. Interest to antique mythology, typical for his time, is combined in his art with mystique and pessimism.
Baldung's major works were altarpieces. The largest creation of the master is the many-winged altar in the Cathedral of Freiburg-im-Breisgau (1513-16), the central part of which is Coronation of the Virgin, and on the wings there are scenes from her life. Bright and daring colors, strict and clear composition, monumental and solemn tranquility of the main characters make the Freiburg altarpiece one of the masterpieces of the northern Renaissance. Magnificent for its bold color is The Three Kings Altarpiece, which was painted for the cathedral of Halle shortly after Baldung finished his apprenticeship at Dürer’s studio. St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Agnes appear to the left and right on the outside of the wings; St. George and St. Maurice on the inside. The highly individual central Magus suggests a donor portrait. More attractive, however, are his small pictures on Biblical subjects, especially those, connected with the Virgin: The Nativity (1520).
Already then, young Baldung touched the subject of doom. He created paintings, etchings, drawings with the contrast of life and death. Three Ages of Life and Death (1509-11). His development leads from the latest Gothic forms via the Italian Renaissance, whose harmony he never strove to achieve, into Mannerism. Allegorical themes are more and more pretentious and artificial, Girl and Death. (1517). Intensive coloring gives place to cooler tones. He was also highly regarded as a portraitist, and from about 1530 he was considered to be one of the best artists on the Upper Rhine.
Bibliography:Hans Baldung Grien: Prints and Drawings by James H. and Shestack, Alan Marrow (Editor). University of Chicago Press. 1981
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.
The Moment of Self-Portraiture in German Renaissance Art by Joseph Leo Koerner. University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Hans Baldung Grien - Prints and Drawings. Yale Univ Art Gallery, 1995.
Hans Baldung Grien: Handzeichn., Druckgraphik by Hans Baldung. S?dwest-Verlag, 1978.