Painter, graphic artist, and stained-glass designer, artist Niklaus Manuel Deutsch was a true "Renaissance man." In addition, Manuel devoted much of his life to furthering the Protestant Reformation as a soldier, writer, and statesman.
The son of Emanuel Alleman, an Italian apothecary who had immigrated to Switzerland, Manuel adopted his father's surname around 1509, translating it Deutsch (German). Scholars know nothing of his training and assume that he was self-taught. His earliest dated painting, Saint Eligius in His Workshop of 1515 from the Anna Altarpiece, made for a church in Bern, shows the influence of a local artist and of the graphic work of Albrecht Dürer and Urs Graf. Manuel Deutsch primarily painted large, colorful works on religious and classical themes. He often depicted witches and stressed the theme of the power of women.
In 1516 and 1522 Manuel Deutsch fought as a mercenary soldier for the French in Lombardy, where he was injured. His latest dated paintings are from 1520, his latest dated drawings from 1529. After 1521 he devoted increasing energy to poetry and to building support for the Reformation through government service and political writings, mainly plays.