Hans Baldung, called Grien 1484-1545

Hans Baldung or HansBaldung Grien/Grün (c. 1480 – September 1545)was a German (Alsatian)Renaissance painter. He was considered the most gifted student of AlbrechtDürer.

Hewas born at Gmünd in Swabia, and spent the greater part of his life atStrassburg and Freiburg in Breisgau.

Theearliest pictures assigned to him are altar-pieces with the monogram H. B. interlaced, and the date of 1496,in the monastery chapel of Lichtenthal near Baden. Another early work is aportrait of the emperor Maximilian, drawn in 1501 on a leaf of a sketch-booknow in the print-room at Karlsruhe. 'The Martyrdom of St Sebastian and theEpiphany' (Berlin Museum), fruits of his labour in 1507, were painted forthe market-church of Halle, in Saxony. In 1509 Grün purchased the freedom ofthe city of Strassburg, and resided there till 1513, when he moved to Freiburgin Breisgau. There he began a series of large compositions, which he finishedin 1516, and placed on the high altar of the Freiburg cathedral. He purchasedanew the freedom of Strassburg in 1517, resided in that city as his domicile,and died a member of its great town council 1545.

Thoughnothing is known of Grün's youth and education, it may be inferred from hisstyle that he was no stranger to the school of which Dürer was the chief. Gmündis but 50 miles distant on either side from Augsburg and Nüremberg. Grün'sprints were often mistaken for those of Dürer; and Dürer himself was wellacauainted with Grün's woodcuts and copper-plates in which he traded during histrip to the Netherlands (1520). But Grün's prints, though Düreresque, are farbelow Dürer, and his paintings are below his prints.

Withoutabsolute correctness as a draughtsman, his conception of human form is oftenvery unpleasant, whilst a questionable taste is shown in ornament equallyprofuse and baroque. Nothing is more remarkable in his pictures than thepug-like shape of the faces, unless we except the coarseness of theextremities. No trace is apparent of any feeling for atmosphere or light andshade. Though Grün has been commonly called the Correggio of the north, hiscompositions are a curious medley of glaring and heterogeneous colours, inwhich pure black is contrasted with pale yellow, dirty grey, impure red andglowing green. Flesh is a mere glaze under which the features are indicated bylines.

Hisworks are mainly interesting because of the wild and fantastic strength whichsome of them display. We may pass lightly over the 'Epiphany' of1507, the 'Crucifixion' of 1512, or the 'Stoning ofStephen' of 1522, in the Berlin Museum. There is some force in the'Dance of Death' of 1517, in the museum of Basel, or the Madonna of1530, in the Liechtenstein Gallery at Vienna. Grün's best effort is thealtarpiece of Freiburg, where the Coronation of the Virgin, and the TwelveApostles, the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity and Flight into Egypt, and theCrucifixion, with portraits of donors, are executed with some of that fancifulpower which Martin Schön bequeathed to the Swabian school.

Asa portrait painter he is well known. He drew the likeness of Charles V , aswell as that of Maximilian; and his bust of Margrave Philip in the MunichGallery tells us that he was connected with the reigning family of Baden, asearly as 1514. At a later period he had sittings from Margrave Christopher ofBaden, Ottilia his wife, and all their children, and the picture containingthese portraits is still in the grand-ducal gallery at Karlsruhe. Like Dürerand Lucas Cranach the Elder, Grün became a hearty supporter of the Reformation.He was present at the Diet of Augsburg in 1518, and one of his woodcutsrepresents Martin Luther under the protection of the Holy Ghost, which hoversover him in the shape of a dove.

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