HOPFER, Daniel
(b. ca. 1470, Kaufbeuren, d. 1536, Augsburg)


Painter and printmaker, part of a German family of etchers. In 1497 Daniel Hopfer married Justina Grimm (d. ca. 1528), sister of the publisher and humanist Sigismund Grimm (active 1502-30). Daniel's sons Hieronymus Hopfer (active 1520. d. before 1550) and Lambert Hopfer (active 1520s) worked with him. Daniel produced more than 130 prints of various subjects for the popular market, Hieronymus 77 and Lambert 34. They placed their initials somewhere within the design on almost all of their prints (D.H., I.H., L.H.), adding a small device which might be a pinecone, from the coat of arms of the city of Augsburg, or a hop blossom, making a punning reference to the family name.

Daniel Hopfer is widely believed to have been the first to use etching in printmaking, at the end of the fifteenth century. He also worked in woodcut. In 1493 he gained rights as a citizen of Augsburg and was added to the city's roster of painters and register of taxpayers. He married in 1497. He was recorded as always financially solvent, after 1505 owning his own house. Working in Augsburg during the city's patronage as a leading humanist centre by Maximilian I, Hopfer was probably the first etcher of armour to pull impressions of etchings on paper. He was known as a designer of ornamental etchings that were applied to armour made in Augsburg, though it is not clear whether he actually etched on the armour; in most cases he probably handed his designs over to armourers who manually applied and etched the ornament. The one surviving piece of signed Hopfer armour, a shield, dates from the year of his death (1536; Madrid, Real Armeria).

Daniel Hopfer was trained as an arms etcher at a time when Augsburg in southern Germany was one of the main centres for the production of weapons and armour in Europe. He was a contemporary of some of the greatest artists in German history - Lucas Cranach, Hans Burgkmair, Hans Holbein and Albrecht Dürer - who were responsible for propelling Germany to the forefront of the Northern Renaissance at the beginning of the 16th century.

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