(b. ca. 1430, Colmar, d. 1491, Breisach)


German engraver and painter, active in Colmar, Alsace. In his day he was probably the most famous artist in Germany; it was in his workshop that the young Dürer hoped to study, but when he arrived in Colmar in 1492 the master had recently died. Only one painting certainly by Schongauer survives - Madonna in the Rose Garden (St Martin's, Colmar, 1473) - and he is remembered chiefly as an engraver, the greatest of his period.

His work was strongly influenced by Netherlandish art, above all by Rogier van der Weyden, but Schongauer had a powerful imagination of his own. He concentrated on religious subjects and about 115 plates by him are known. In them he brought a new richness and maturity to engraving, expanding the range of tones and textures, so that an art that had previously been the domain of the goldsmith took on a more painterly quality. The gracefulness of his work became legendary, giving rise to the nicknames 'Hübsch (charming) Martin' and 'Schön (beautiful) Martin'.