Hans Holbein d.Ä.
* 1460 Augsburg
† 1524 Isenheim
Hans Holbein the Elder, one of the most important representatives of Northern Alpine late gothic and early Renaissance painting, was born in Augsburg in the first half of the 1460s. The son of the master tanner Michel Holbein presumably spent the most important years of his apprenticeship in the Upper Rhine area and in Ulm, where he encountered the then important late gothic "Ulm School", which would have decisive influence on his artistic development. His paintings indicate that he also traveled the Lower Rhine region and the Netherlands, but there is a lack of sufficient proof for this assumption.
Documentary evidence for Hans Holbein the Elder is in existence for Ulm in 1493, where he was in possession of civil rights and in cooperation with the famous carver Michel Erhart. A year later Hans Holbein the Elder returned to his hometown, where he married a local woman – it is purely speculative that it was the sister of the painter Hans Burgkmair. What is for sure, however, is that Holbein's workshop increased steadily: The early-widowed Hans Holbein the Elder registered an apprentice by the name of Stephan Kriechbaum with the Augsburg gild in 1496 and there is also proof for two assistants in 1497, and their support was clearly necessary: At the end of the century Hans Holbein the Elder's reputation as excellent painter and extremely poised colorist had grown supraregional, as numerous commissions deliver proof of.
Until 1515 Hans Holbein the Elder stayed most of the time in his native town, where his second son, the later painter of the same name, was born in 1497/98. In order to tell the two apart, his son was called Hans Holbein the Younger. Hans Holbein the Elder bequeathed him a tendency towards a subtle and psychological strong depiction of human physiognomy.
For unknown reasons – at times debts are mentioned - Hans Holbein the Elder, who also showed great talent in silverpoint drawing, left Augsburg for good in 1515. In the following, there is proof for Hans Holbein the Elder in Isenheim and Lucerne. In 1524 Hans Holbein the Elder died, presumably in Isenheim.