* 1502 Nürnberg
† 1540 Bologna
The painter and graphic artist Barthel Beham is regarded one of the most important successors of Albrecht Dürer.
He was born at the city of Nuremberg, Dürer’s hometown, in 1502. His date of birth can be inferred from a medal dated 1531 and with the artist’s portrait at the age of 29. At that age Barthel Beham had already gained great fame.
It is not known where Barthel Beham served his apprenticeship. It is very likely that he spent his younger years in the workshop of his slightly older brother Hans Sebald Beham, whose style was as influential on him as that of Albrecht Dürer.
During his active time in Nuremberg, Barthel Beham created renowned graphic works. Copper engravings and models for woodcuts were executed with great mastery and a love for details. In this genre Barthel Beham was a representative of true Renaissance art, paving the path for motifs from ancient mythology in Germany, but he was also a passionate ornamental artist.
In Nuremberg Barthel Beham would soon get into trouble: Barthel Beham, Hans Sebald Beham and the painter Georg Pencz were banned from Nuremberg at the beginning of 1525 for atheist views. Even though Barthel Beham was allowed to return to his hometown the same year, he never again felt comfortable there.
So he decided to relocate to the royal residential town of Munich in 1527. Barthel Beham soon received commissions from the ducal court, he alternatingly lived in Munich and Landshut. In these years Barthel Beham was particularly active as portrait painter, and gained fame for his clear nobility portraits, their realism and representative value made for their great popularity. From time to time Barthel Beham also made allegories , religious scenes and portrait engravings.
On a journey through Italy Barthel Beham died in Bologna in 1540.