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Storytelling in Miniature

Georg Pencz’s The Life of Christ

During his relatively short artistic career, Georg Pencz (German, about 1500–1550) made more than 150 small engravings. He often produced a series of images based on one topic, theme, or story. In the 26 plates of The Life of Christ series, Pencz presents notable events and teachings of Christ from his birth through his resurrection and its aftermath.

It is possible that Pencz moved to Nuremberg to become an assistant in Albrecht Dürer’s studio sometime before 1520. Evidence of this lies in the fact that Pencz participated in the restoration of the Town Hall in 1521, a project directed by Dürer, when he was about 20 years old. Pencz’s known work in engraving began around 1529. Linked to the Beham brothers in more than format, Pencz was also expelled with them from Nuremberg as one of the ‘godless painters’ in 1525. The banishment was short lived as in 1532 Pencz was appointed Nuremberg’s City Painter. Even with the appointment, there is evidence that Pencz was financially wanting throughout his life. At his death, the Nuremberg council settled his debts, “in view of his many sons, his great poverty, and the fact that he was a fine artist.”