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Hans Sebald Beham

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Hans Sebald Beham

*  1500 Nürnberg
† 1550 Frankfurt/Main


Along with his younger brother Barthel Beham, Sebald Beham counts among the most important successors of Albrecht Dürer and is one of the main so-called "Kleinmeister" (Little Masters) of German Renaissance.
Sebald Beham was born in Dürer’s hometown Nuremberg in 1500. The archives do not supply proof for the full name Hans Sebald Beham, however, it is widely assumed on the basis of his artist monogram.
Up until 1528 Hans Sebald Beham was a successful artist in Nuremberg, however, his problems with his native town began around 1525: Hans Sebald Beham, his brother Barthel Beham and Georg Pencz were involved in a sensational process in which the "three godless painter" were sentenced for heresy and banned from Nuremberg. Even though Hans Sebald Beham was able to return to Nuremberg in autumn of 1525, he was forced to leave the town again in 1528 for a trial of plagiarism. After stops in Ingolstadt, Aschaffenburg, Mainz and Munich, Hans Sebald Beham eventually settled for good in Frankfurt am Main in 1532. A year later he laid down his Nuremberg civil rights.
Hans Sebald Beham’s achievements in the field of graphic art are of remarkable importance. He made virtuous small masterpieces of both humanist and ancient, but also realistic and at times preachy subjects. He used various print techniques, such as copper and iron engravings and woodcuts. Initially his style took after that of Albrecht Dürer, however, in his later works the influence of Italian Renaissance art can be observed.
In the field of ornamental art Sebald Beham also earned highest merits. His imaginative and rich ornament engravings served as model for artisan designs. Additionally, he made book illustrations as well as prints for leaflets with often satirical content. Only one painting by Sebald Beham is known: the scenes of the famous table plate für cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg (1534, Paris, Musée du Louvre).
Hans Sebald Beham died at Frankfurt am Main in 1550.