Starting in 1503, Hans Baldung Grien learned the trade at the atelier of Albrecht Dürer in Nuremberg. At that time, many men were called John, so some art historians claim that Hans, because he loved the color green so much, got the byname Grien distinguishing him from his colleagues in Dürer's workshop.
"The stained glass is from the Löffelholz Window at the Nuremberg parish church Saint Lorenz. Here Baldung worked together with the important Nuremberg workshop of Veit Hirschvogel, the Elder, whereby he probably not only provided the design but was also involved in the execution of the work himself. Magnificent details such as the ermine-trimmed cloak and the kneeling king's hat, the goldsmith's objects serving as gifts, as well as the colorful dawn making the sky glow are worth a special mention."
|The Holy Family in the Room with Five Angels (around 1507)|
"Baldung probably created this devotional picture towards the end of his Nuremberg years. The richly detailed interior offering a view of a river landscape is based on Dutch models. An angel presents Child Jesus with a pear, symbol for overcoming the original sin. Mary's thoughtful expression is explained by the knowledge of the suffering her son is about to endure. The box in the foreground, reminiscent of a sarcophagus, could also be a hint."
Being a well-known artist by 1512, Baldung moved to Freiburg and later in 1519 to Strasborrg.
|Hans painted himself on the right on his altarpiece, proudly wearing a red beret.|
|And Hans placed the following signature:|
John Baldung, called Grien, originating from Gmünd, created it with the help of God and by his own strength.
|Mother of God with the Sleeping Child (1514)|
"Maria and the Child are set off from the abstract bright red background in a very plastic and precisely modeled way. Both the unusual red background and the death-like sleep of the Child go back to early Christian models. A cryptic dating of the painting has led to various interpretations. Recent infrared photographs show a Gothic four, which would indicate that this painting was created in Baldung's Freiburg period."
|One of Freiburg's patrons, St. Lambert, with the city's coat of arms, |
i.e., St. George's cross, painted on the glass around 1513
|The inscription reads "A Happy New Year to the Canons " (1514)|
When the Reformation was established at Strasbourg, the commissions for paintings with religious motives dried up, and many an artist ended in misery. Not so Hans the Grien. He delivered not only Madonnas but witches too.
|Two Witches (1523)|
|An unequal couple (around 1527)|
As always, money is involved in those deals.
|Birth of Christ (1539)|
Joseph looks somehow suspicious. Has he realized that the new-born Child in front of him is not his son?
|The Bewitched Groom (around 1534)|
"It is also possible that reference is made to a popular legend of the time. It tells of a robber baron who made a pact with the devil. When he hid from the devil in the disguise of a groom, he was killed by a horse. If the reclining figure is not dead, the strange scene may arise from his dreams, but what does Baldung's person have to do with it? The mysteriousness of the scene is the exceptional quality of the woodcut, which is still fascinating today."
|Self-portrait at the age of 49 years (woodcut, 1534?)|
While the name Dürer dominated the art scene in Germany around 1500, Hans Baldung Grien definitely is on a par artistically.
N.B.: The long texts in italics are translations of accompanying explanations at the Karlsruhe exhibition.