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Hans Burgkmair

Hans Burgkmair

German painter
The basics
Occupations Painter
Countries Germany
A.K.A. Hans Burgkmair, Hans The Elder Burgkmair, Joh. Burgmayr, Hans, I Burgkmair, H. B., Hans Burgmair, Johann Burgkmair, Hans Purchmejer, Hans Burkmair, Johann Buigkmair, Hans Burgman, Hans Burgmayr, Hans, the elder Burgkmair
Gender male
Birth January 1, 1473 (Augsburg, Swabia, Bavaria, Germany)
Death January 1, 1531 (Augsburg, Swabia, Bavaria, Germany)
Father: Thoman Burgkmair
Spouse: Anna Burgkmair
Children: Hans Burgkmair the Younger
Notable Works Basilica San Pietro, Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano, Portrait of a man
Authority ISNI id Library of congress id NNDB id VIAF id
Hans Burgkmair
The details

Hans Burgkmair the Elder (1473–1531) was a German painter and woodcut printmaker.


Hans Burgkmair was born in Augsburg, the son of painter Thomas Burgkmair. His own son, Hans the Younger, later became a painter as well. From 1488, Burgkmair was a pupil of Martin Schongauer in Colmar. Schongauer died in 1491, before Burgkmair was able to complete the normal period of training. He may have visited Italy at this time, and certainly did so in 1507, which greatly influenced his style. From 1491, he worked in Augsburg, where he became a master and eventually opened his own workshop in 1498.

German art historian Friedrich Wilhelm Hollstein ascribes 834 woodcuts to Burgkmair, the majority of which were intended for book illustrations. Slightly more than a hundred are “single-leaf” prints which were not intended for books. His work shows a talent for striking compositions which blend Italian Renaissance forms with the established German style.

From about 1508, Burgkmair spent much of his time working on the woodcut projects of Maximilian I until the Emperor's death in 1519. He was responsible for nearly half of the 135 prints in the Triumphs of Maximilian, which are large and full of character. He also did most of the illustrations for Weiss Kunig and much of Theurdank. He worked closely with the leading blockcutter Jost de Negker, who became in effect his publisher.

Burgkmair's 1522 colored woodcut of the Coat of arms of the Swabian League, with a flag of St. George. Two putti support a red cross in a white field; the motto: What God has joined let man not separate.

He was an important innovator of the chiaroscuro woodcut, and seems to have been the first to use a tone block, in a print of 1508. His Lovers Surprised by Death (1510) is the first chiaroscuro print to use three blocks, and also the first print that was designed to be printed only in colour, as the line block by itself would not make a satisfactory image. Other chiaroscuro prints from around this date by Baldung and Cranach had line blocks that could be and were printed by themselves. He produced one etching, Venus and Mercury (c1520), etched on a steel plate, but never tried engraving, despite his training with Schongauer.

Burgkmair was also a successful painter, mainly of religious scenes, portraits of Augsburg citizens, and members of the Emperor's court. Many examples of his work are in the galleries of Munich, Vienna and elsewhere.

Burgkmair died at Augsburg in 1531.

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