From Heinrich Aldegrever's two engraved self-portraits of 1530 and 1537 at the ages of 28 and 35, it is evident that he was born in 1502, presumabl… [Read biography »]
Sgned prints by 'Little' Old Master Aldegrever created during the Protestant Reformation describe biblical scenes in epic detail, recalling Durer's woodcuts.
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Heinrich Aldegrever Biography
From Heinrich Aldegrever's two engraved self-portraits of 1530 and 1537 at the ages of 28 and 35, it is evident that he was born in 1502, presumably in Paderborn, home of his parents, Herman and Katherine Trippenmeker, called Aldegrever. Like his father (who had demanded, unsuccessfully, to be executed along with sixteen Paderborn citizens who had been arrested during a religious uprising in 1532), Aldegrever participated in the Protestant Reformation. He established himself permanently in nearby Soest ca. 1525, where he entered the painters' guild around 1526-27, and became a citizen of the city in 1530. His first engraving is dated 1527. Aldegrever's training and course of his presumed Wandejyabr are uncertain, but trips to Nuremberg (according to van Mander, who implies that Aldegrever had worked in Durer's shop), Monster (perhaps as assistant to Ludger Tom Ring), and Bruges or Antwerp (where he could have been in touch with Joos van Cleve) have been proposed.
Aldegrever produced nearly 300 engravings (a third of which were ornamental sheets) and three etchings on iron. He was also active as a painter, and perhaps as a goldsmith. in the latter capacity it is certain that he made at least three silver seats and a signet ring for Duke Wilhelm of Cleves. Although Aldegrever was not a member of the goldsmiths' guild, he apparently taught this craft to his son, Christoph. Aldegrever may also have been a stained-glass painter. Stained-glass windows in Soest (Patroclimilnster) and Conches (Sainte-Foy) have been attributed to Aldegrever; although the latter, which bears his name, may simply be after one of his engravings (B. 252).
In 1531 Aldegrever is mentioned as a cojuror of the Patrocli Shooting Guild, and he participated in the institution of the Reformation in Soest in the same year. 1537 he is mentioned by the satirist Daniel von Soest as having portrayed the judge Johan van Holte and his beloved posing in the nude, according to their wishes. About this time Aldegrever engraved his famous portraits of the Anabaptist leaders Jan van Leyden and Bernhard Knipperdolling (B. 182, B. 183), and in 1540 he engraved portraits of Luther and Melanchthon (B. 184, 185).
Between 1541 and 1549 his activity is uncertain, and he produced no dated engravings, but between 1549 and 1555 he issued his series of the Labors of Hercules (B. 83-95), the Seven Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins (B. 117-123, 124-130), and his remarkable Biblical series treating the stories of Dives and Lazarus (B. 44-48, cat. 37), the Good Samaritan (B. 40-43, Cat. 35), Susannah (B. 30-33), and Lot (B. 14-17).
Aldegrever died between 1555, the last year in which he dated an engraving, and 1561, when his son is recorded as saying that his father had been a capable stained-glass and panel painter. Many of Aldegrever's compositions are highly derivative, and his monogram mimics that of one of his favorite sources, Albrecht Durer. Van Mander reports that Aldegrever was buried very humbly, and that he was only awarded a tombstone (carrying his name and monogram) posthumously, at the behest of an artist from Monster who came seeking Aldegrever only to discover that he had died.
Sources: Allgemeines Kunstlerlexikon 1: 928-32; TbiemeBecker 1: 240-243; Mander, Scbdderboeck, 227-227v; Zschelletzschky, Das graphiscbe Werk Heinrick Aldegrevers, 5-11.