Surrounded by physicians, lawyers, and scholars, Hans Baldung Grien was one of the first German artists from a learned family. He first studied in Strasbourg or Swabia around 1499. While in Albrecht Dürer's Nuremberg workshop from 1503 to 1507, he was nicknamed "Grien," probably after his favorite color, green, and to distinguish him from other apprentices named "Hans." Two years later he settled in Strasbourg, becoming a wealthy property owner active in civic affairs. From 1512 to 1517, Baldung moved to Freiberg im Breslau to paint its cathedral's eleven-panel altarpiece, still in place today.
Baldung was responsible for introducing supernatural and erotic themes into German art. He often depicted witches, also a local interest: Strasbourg's humanists studied witchcraft and its bishop was charged with ferreting out witches. Toward the end of his life, Baldung increasingly represented secular subjects, reflecting the Reformation's constraints on religious art.
Baldung's work was expressionistic, imaginative and vividly colorful. By the end, his style developed Mannerist features: clashing colors and sinuous line combined with naturalistic detail. He created woodcuts, religious paintings, portraits, and designs for stained glass.