Hans Baldung Grien
Hans Baldung Grien Galleries
The earliest pictures assigned to him by some are altar-pieces with the monogram H. B. interlaced, and the date of 1496, in the monastery chapel of Lichtenthal near Baden-Baden. Another early work is a portrait of the emperor Maximilian, drawn in 1501 on a leaf of a sketch-book now in the print-room at Karlsruhe. "The Martyrdom of St Sebastian and the Epiphany" (Berlin Museum), fruits of his labour in 1507, were painted for the market-church of Halle in Saxony.
Baldung's prints, though D??reresque, are very individual in style, and often in subject. They show little direct Italian influence. His paintings are less important than his prints. He worked mainly in woodcut, although he made six engravings, one very fine. He joined in the fashion for chiaroscuro woodcuts, adding a tone block to a woodcut of 1510. Most of his hundreds of woodcuts were commissioned for books, as was usual at the time; his "single-leaf" woodcuts (ie prints not for book illustration) are fewer than 100, though no two catalogues agree as to the exact number.
He was extremely interested in witches and made many images of them in different media, including several very beautiful drawings finished with bodycolour, which are more erotic than his treatments in other techniques.
Witch and Dragon. Drawing with bodycolour (b/w repro)Without absolute correctness as a draughtsman, his conception of human form is often very unpleasant, whilst a questionable taste is shown in ornament equally profuse and baroque. Nothing is more remarkable in his pictures than the pug-like shape of the faces, unless we except the coarseness of the extremities. No trace is apparent of any feeling for atmosphere or light and shade. Though Gr??n has been commonly called the Correggio of the north, his compositions are a curious medley of glaring and heterogeneous colours, in which pure black is contrasted with pale yellow, dirty grey, impure red and glowing green. Flesh is a mere glaze under which the features are indicated by lines. (1911)
His works are mainly interesting because of the wild and fantastic strength which some of them display. His Eve, the Serpent and Death (National Museum of Canada) shows his strengths well. We may pass lightly over the "Epiphany" of 1507, the "Crucifixion" of 1512, or the "Stoning of Stephen" 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 of 1530, in the Liechtenstein Gallery at Vienna. Gr??n's best effort is the altarpiece of Freiburg, where the Coronation of the Virgin, and the Twelve Apostles, the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity and Flight into Egypt, and the Crucifixion, with portraits of donors, are executed with some of that fanciful power which Martin Schongauer bequeathed to the Swabian school.
As a portrait painter he is well known. He drew the likeness of Charles V, as well as that of Maximilian; and his bust of Margrave Philip in the Munich Gallery tells us that he was connected with the reigning family of Baden, as early as 1514. At a later period he had sittings from Margrave Christopher of Baden, Ottilia his wife, and all their children, and the picture containing these portraits is still in the grand-ducal gallery at Karlsruhe. Like D??rer and Cranach, Gr??n became a hearty supporter of the Reformation. He was present at the diet of Augsburg in 1518, and one of his woodcuts represents Luther under the protection of the Holy Ghost, which hovers over him in the shape of a dove.