b. 1502 Paderborn, d. 1561 Soest, Westphalia
draftsman; painter; printmaker
Because of the tiny size of his prints, Heinrich Aldegrever is considered one of a group of German Renaissance artists known as the "Little Masters." He first trained as a goldsmith and produced a large number of ornamental designs for ironwork during the early part of his career, including designs for sheaths of swords, daggers and domestic knives. Most of his career however, was devoted to making engravings of mythological and Biblical subjects such as the Twelve Labors of Hercules and the Story of Adam and Eve. Stylistically Aldegrever's work reflects the influence of Albrecht Dürer, whose work was widely known throughout Europe and whose monogram Aldegrever imitated. Unlike Dürer and his followers who specialized in intricate line work, Aldegrever specialized in optical effects of light and shadow. Slim, elongated figures and agitated drapery further distinguish his work. Aldegrever produced almost 300 engravings between 1527 and 1555, nearly all on a miraculously small scale.