9. Hans Baldung Grien

Sleeping Groom and Sorceress

Woodcut, 1544, Size: 34 × 20.1 cm
With thread margins as trimmed on the black border line, and with  border line preserved all around. A good, dark impression of this extremely scarce woodcut.

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Ex. Coll. Wihelm Heinrich Ferdinand Karl von Lepell (Lugt 672 verso); and Kupferstickkabinett des Staatliche Museen, Berlin (Lugt 1606 verso).

Hans Baldung Grien (1484–1545) was born into a Swabian family of prominent intellectuals, and at the age of eighteen was apprenticed to Dürer, whose most gifted student he became, especially as a printmaker. He became known as ‘Grien’ from his habit of dressing in green, which is supposed to have been a reference to witches, ‘grienhals’ in German. The mysterious subject-matter of many of his engravings, such as this one, would support the idea. Introducing images that reflected the occult theology of the German Renaissance had a major impact on print-making in the first half of the 16th century, and his imagery has remained influential ever since. His residence in the Free Imperial City of Strasbourg gave him unusual freedom to move beyond conventional themes and religious subject-matter. The horse in this image is a stroppy stallion, while a unicorn appears mysteriously in the escutcheon above the window.