Hans Sebald Beham - Death and the Standing Naked
Hans Sebald Beham - Adam and Eve, 1543
Hans Sebald Beham - Death and Three Nude Women,
Hans Sebald Beham, Death and the Indecent Pair,1529
Hans Sebald Beham - Boy with a Dog
Peasants, Warriors, and Wives: Popular Imagery in the Reformation
Hans Sebald Beham (1500–1550 ) was a German printmaker who did his best work as
an engraver, and was also a designer of woodcuts and a painter and miniaturist.
He is one of the most important of the "Little Masters", the group of German
artists making old master prints in the generation after Dürer.
Hans Sebald Beham was born into a family of artists in Nuremberg, the older
brother of Barthel Beham by two years. In 1525, along with his brother and Georg Pencz, the so-called "godless painters", he was banished from Nuremberg, accused
of heresy (against Lutheranism), blasphemy and not recognising the authority of
the City council. Within months the three were allowed to return to the city,
but Beham was exiled again in 1528 for publishing a book on the proportions of
the horse regarded as plagiarised from an unpublished manuscript by Albrecht
Dürer, who had recently died. After a period spent working in various German
cities, from 1532 he lived mostly in Frankfurt until his death in 1550.
He is increasingly known just as "Sebald Beham", as this how he usually signed
his name in full. The "Hans" seems to derive from the first letter of his
monogram only. However, up to about 1532 his prints were monogrammed 'HSP',
reflecting the Nuremberg pronunciation of his name: Peham. After this date, when
he had moved to Frankfurt, his monogram became 'HSB'.
Beham is best known as a prolific printmaker, producing approximately 252
engravings, 18 etchings and 1500 woodcuts, including woodcut book illustrations.
He worked extensively on tiny, highly detailed, engravings, many as small as
postage stamps, placing him in the German printmaking school known as the
"Little Masters" from the size of their prints. These works he produced and
published himself, whilst his much larger woodcuts were mostly commissioned
The engravings found a ready market among German bourgeois collectors, but
were not much seen in Italy. He also made prints for use as playing cards,
wallpaper, coats of arms, and designs for other artists, including many designs
for stained or painted glass. He also illuminated two prayer books and painted a
table top (now in the Louvre ) for Cardinal Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz.
His engravings cover a range of subjects, but he is especially known for scenes
of peasant life, and scenes from classical myth or history, both often with an