Hans Baldung

“He was a unique artist, a free spirit with an extraordinarily fertile imagination. Baldung’s dramatic compositional solutions, the expressive range and variety of his linear technique, his insights into human psychology, and his preoccupation with demonic fantasy are unique.” 

– Alan Shestack, Hans Baldung Grien: Prints and Drawings, 1981


Hans Baldung was a painter, printmaker and draughtsman known for his woodcuts, stained glass designs and altarpieces, as well as his paintings. During the Northern Renaissance, Baldung set himself apart from his contemporaries with his unique interpretation of biblical and occult imagery.

Born in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany, Baldung spent most of his life in Strasbourg. Unlike most artists of the time, he did not come from a family of artisans, but of doctors, attorneys and professors. He left for Nuremberg in 1503 to be apprenticed to Albrecht Dürer, who had a significant impact on his work. The darker tone of much of his later work was influenced by Matthias Grünewald, another contemporary of Baldung.

Like many Renaissance artists, Baldung specialized in religious imagery, but brought a dark, often erotic edge to it. He frequently made the female form the centre of his work, pairing it with occult and allegorical subjects such as death and witchcraft. The fall of man was a favoured theme, and he made several illustrations of Adam and Eve (Eve, the Serpent, and Death, c. 1510-1515).

Some of his most famous work is found in the altarpiece of the cathedral at Freiburg im Bresgau, which features 11 of his paintings. Baldung was a supporter of Martin Luther’s Reformation and a member of the Strasbourg city council.