The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary German Painters of all time. This list of famous German Painters is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of German Painters.
With an HPI of 85.12, Peter Paul Rubens is the most famous German Painter. His biography has been translated into 136 different languages on wikipedia.
Sir Peter Paul Rubens (; Dutch: [ˈrybə(n)s]; 28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish artist and diplomat from the Duchy of Brabant in the Southern Netherlands (modern-day Belgium). He is considered the most influential artist of the Flemish Baroque tradition. Rubens's highly charged compositions reference erudite aspects of classical and Christian history. His unique and immensely popular Baroque style emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, which followed the immediate, dramatic artistic style promoted in the Counter-Reformation. Rubens was a painter producing altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects. He was also a prolific designer of cartoons for the Flemish tapestry workshops and of frontispieces for the publishers in Antwerp. In addition to running a large workshop in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England. Rubens was a prolific artist. The catalogue of his works by Michael Jaffé lists 1,403 pieces, excluding numerous copies made in his workshop.His commissioned works were mostly history paintings, which included religious and mythological subjects, and hunt scenes. He painted portraits, especially of friends, and self-portraits, and in later life painted several landscapes. Rubens designed tapestries and prints, as well as his own house. He also oversaw the ephemeral decorations of the royal entry into Antwerp by the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria in 1635. He wrote a book with illustrations of the palaces in Genoa, which was published in 1622 as Palazzi di Genova. The book was influential in spreading the Genoese palace style in Northern Europe. Rubens was an avid art collector and had one of the largest collections of art and books in Antwerp. He was also an art dealer and is known to have sold an important number of art objects to George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham.He was one of the last major artists to make consistent use of wooden panels as a support medium, even for very large works, but he used canvas as well, especially when the work needed to be sent a long distance. For altarpieces he sometimes painted on slate to reduce reflection problems.
With an HPI of 85.05, Albrecht Dürer is the 2nd most famous German Painter. His biography has been translated into 152 different languages.
Albrecht Dürer (; German: [ˈʔalbʁɛçt ˈdyːʁɐ]; Hungarian: Ajtósi Adalbert; 21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528), sometimes spelled in English as Durer (without an umlaut) or Duerer, was a German painter, printmaker, and theorist of the German Renaissance. Born in Nuremberg, Dürer established his reputation and influence across Europe in his twenties due to his high-quality woodcut prints. He was in contact with the major Italian artists of his time, including Raphael, Giovanni Bellini, and Leonardo da Vinci, and from 1512 was patronized by Emperor Maximilian I. Dürer's vast body of work includes engravings, his preferred technique in his later prints, altarpieces, portraits and self-portraits, watercolours and books. The woodcuts series are more Gothic than the rest of his work. His well-known engravings include the three Meisterstiche (master prints) Knight, Death and the Devil (1513), Saint Jerome in his Study (1514), and Melencolia I (1514). His watercolours mark him as one of the first European landscape artists, while his woodcuts revolutionised the potential of that medium. Dürer's introduction of classical motifs into Northern art, through his knowledge of Italian artists and German humanists, has secured his reputation as one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance. This is reinforced by his theoretical treatises, which involve principles of mathematics, perspective, and ideal proportions.
With an HPI of 76.82, Caspar David Friedrich is the 3rd most famous German Painter. His biography has been translated into 70 different languages.
Caspar David Friedrich (5 September 1774 – 7 May 1840) was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter, generally considered the most important German artist of his generation. He is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes, which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic ruins. His primary interest was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. Friedrich's paintings characteristically set a human presence in diminished perspective amid expansive landscapes, reducing the figures to a scale that, according to the art historian Christopher John Murray, directs "the viewer's gaze towards their metaphysical dimension".Friedrich was born in the town of Greifswald on the Baltic Sea in what was at the time Swedish Pomerania. He studied in Copenhagen until 1798, before settling in Dresden. He came of age during a period when, across Europe, a growing disillusionment with materialistic society was giving rise to a new appreciation of spirituality. This shift in ideals was often expressed through a reevaluation of the natural world, as artists such as Friedrich, J. M. W. Turner and John Constable sought to depict nature as a "divine creation, to be set against the artifice of human civilization".Friedrich's work brought him renown early in his career, and contemporaries such as the French sculptor David d'Angers spoke of him as a man who had discovered "the tragedy of landscape". Nevertheless, his work fell from favour during his later years, and he died in obscurity. As Germany moved towards modernisation in the late 19th century, a new sense of urgency characterised its art, and Friedrich's contemplative depictions of stillness came to be seen as the products of a bygone age. The early 20th century brought a renewed appreciation of his work, beginning in 1906 with an exhibition of thirty-two of his paintings in Berlin. By the 1920s his paintings had been discovered by the Expressionists, and in the 1930s and early 1940s Surrealists and Existentialists frequently drew ideas from his work. The rise of Nazism in the early 1930s again saw a resurgence in Friedrich's popularity, but this was followed by a sharp decline as his paintings were, by association with the Nazi movement, interpreted as having a nationalistic aspect. It was not until the late 1970s that Friedrich regained his reputation as an icon of the German Romantic movement and a painter of international importance.
With an HPI of 73.57, Lucas Cranach the Elder is the 4th most famous German Painter. His biography has been translated into 56 different languages.
Lucas Cranach the Elder (German: Lucas Cranach der Ältere [ˈluːkas ˈkʁaːnax deːɐ̯ ˈʔɛltəʁə]; c. 1472 – 16 October 1553) was a German Renaissance painter and printmaker in woodcut and engraving. He was court painter to the Electors of Saxony for most of his career, and is known for his portraits, both of German princes and those of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, whose cause he embraced with enthusiasm. He was a close friend of Martin Luther. Cranach also painted religious subjects, first in the Catholic tradition, and later trying to find new ways of conveying Lutheran religious concerns in art. He continued throughout his career to paint nude subjects drawn from mythology and religion. Cranach had a large workshop and many of his works exist in different versions; his son Lucas Cranach the Younger and others continued to create versions of his father's works for decades after his death. He has been considered the most successful German artist of his time.
With an HPI of 71.86, Max Ernst is the 5th most famous German Painter. His biography has been translated into 62 different languages.
Max Ernst (2 April 1891 – 1 April 1976) was a German (naturalised American in 1948 and French in 1958) painter, sculptor, printmaker, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was a primary pioneer of the Dada movement and Surrealism in Europe. He had no formal artistic training, but his experimental attitude toward the making of art resulted in his invention of frottage—a technique that uses pencil rubbings of textured objects and relief surfaces to create images—and grattage, an analogous technique in which paint is scraped across canvas to reveal the imprints of the objects placed beneath. Ernst is noted for his unconventional drawing methods as well as for creating novels and pamphlets using the method of collages. He served as a soldier for four years during World War I, and this experience left him shocked, traumatised and critical of the modern world. During World War II he was designated an "undesirable foreigner" while living in France. He died in Paris on 1 April 1976.
With an HPI of 71.37, Matthias Grünewald is the 6th most famous German Painter. His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.
Matthias Grünewald (c. 1470 – 31 August 1528) was a German Renaissance painter of religious works who ignored Renaissance classicism to continue the style of late medieval Central European art into the 16th century. His first name is also given as Mathis and his surname as Gothart or Neithardt. Only ten paintings—several consisting of many panels—and thirty-five drawings survive, all religious, although many others were lost at sea on their way to Sweden as war booty. He was obscure until the late nineteenth century, when many of his paintings were attributed to Albrecht Dürer, who is now seen as his stylistic antithesis. His largest and most famous work is the Isenheim Altarpiece created c. 1512 to 1516.
With an HPI of 70.73, Hans Memling is the 7th most famous German Painter. His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.
Hans Memling (also spelled Memlinc; c. 1430 – 11 August 1494) was a painter active in Flanders, who worked in the tradition of Early Netherlandish painting. He was born in the Middle Rhine region and probably spent his childhood in Mainz. He moved to the Netherlands and spent time in the Brussels workshop of Rogier van der Weyden. He was subsequently made a citizen of Bruges in 1465, where he became one of the leading artists, running a large workshop, which painted religious works that often incorporated donor portraits of his wealthy patrons. Memling's patrons included burghers (bankers, merchants, and politicians), clergymen, and aristocrats.Memling's portraits built upon the styles that he learned in his youth. He became very successful, and in 1480 was listed among the wealthiest citizens in a city tax list. He married Anna de Valkenaere sometime between 1470 and 1480, and they had three children. Memling's art was rediscovered in the 19th century, attaining wide popularity.
With an HPI of 70.54, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner is the 8th most famous German Painter. His biography has been translated into 56 different languages.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (6 May 1880 – 15 June 1938) was a German expressionist painter and printmaker and one of the founders of the artists group Die Brücke or "The Bridge", a key group leading to the foundation of Expressionism in 20th-century art. He volunteered for army service in the First World War, but soon suffered a breakdown and was discharged. His work was branded as "degenerate" by the Nazis in 1933, and in 1937 more than 600 of his works were sold or destroyed.
With an HPI of 69.06, Albrecht Altdorfer is the 9th most famous German Painter. His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.
Albrecht Altdorfer (c. 1480—12 February 1538) was a German painter, engraver and architect of the Renaissance working in Regensburg, Bavaria. Along with Lucas Cranach the Elder and Wolf Huber he is regarded to be the main representative of the Danube School, setting biblical and historical subjects against landscape backgrounds of expressive colours. He is remarkable as one of the first artists to take an interest in landscape as an independent subject. As an artist also making small intricate engravings he is seen to belong to the Nuremberg Little Masters.
With an HPI of 68.97, Franz Marc is the 10th most famous German Painter. His biography has been translated into 58 different languages.
Franz Moritz Wilhelm Marc (8 February 1880 – 4 March 1916) was a German painter and printmaker, one of the key figures of German Expressionism. He was a founding member of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a journal whose name later became synonymous with the circle of artists collaborating in it. His mature works mostly depict animals, and are known for bright colouration. He was drafted to serve in the German Army at the beginning of World War I, and died two years later at the Battle of Verdun. In the 1930s, the Nazis named him a degenerate artist as part of their suppression of modern art. However, most of his work survived World War II, securing his legacy. His work is now exhibited in many eminent galleries and museums. When up for auction, his major paintings attract large sums, with a record of £42,654,500 for Die Füchse (The Foxes).
Pantheon has 128 people classified as painters born between 1400 and 1954. Of these 128, 4 (3.13%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living painters include Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, and Georg Baselitz. The most famous deceased painters include Peter Paul Rubens, Albrecht Dürer, and Caspar David Friedrich. As of April 2022, 14 new painters have been added to Pantheon including Adolf Ziegler, Carlos Schwabe, and Louise Catherine Breslau.
1577 - 1640
1471 - 1528
1774 - 1840
1472 - 1553
1891 - 1976
1480 - 1528
1435 - 1494
1880 - 1938
1480 - 1538
1880 - 1916
1891 - 1969
1867 - 1956
1892 - 1959
1866 - 1926
1856 - 1927
1805 - 1874
1500 - 1550
1792 - 1871
1721 - 1782
1798 - 1840
1686 - 1739
1895 - 1987
1849 - 1938
1629 - 1704
Which Painters were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Painters since 1700.