Georg Pencz Biography

Georg Pencz




Engraver, printmaker, and painter Georg Pencz was born around 1500 near Westheim, Germany. Accounts of his early pursuit of art show him traveling to Nuremberg in 1523 and joining the atelier of Albrecht Durer. A trip to Italy, in particular his stay in Venice, became a source of inspiration for the artist throughout his career. It is thought that he may have studied under Italian printmaker Marcantonio Raimondi, known as a leading engraver of famous paintings and a key figure in promoting the print as a means of making art more accesible to the world. 

In 1525 he was imprisoned as a "godless painter" along with Barthel and Hans Sebald Beham, who actively promoted the anti-Lutheran and anti-Roman Catholic teachings of radical German Reformist Thomas Muntzer. For reasons unknown, they were soon released and briefly banished from Lutheran Nuremberg, though they were later pardoned and given the title "Little Masters" for their highly detailed, miniature prints. Pencz, despite his early fervent belief in the work of Muntzer, would eventually become known for his depictions of traditional religious scenes. 

After further travels to Italy, Pencz settled permanently in Nuremberg in 1939, where he was hired as the city painter and was was comissioned to paint the ceilings of various wealthy patrons in the trompe l'oeil style; as well, he established himself as a highly sought-after portraitist. His favor in art history remains primarily with his "Little Master" woodengravings, however, often executed on matrices no larger than two inches by three inches. In 1550 he was appointed court painter by Albert, Duke of Prussia, but he died in Leipzig before he could take up the position, on October 11, 1550.