Illustrator, copperplate engraver, commercial artist, draughtsman, painter, design draughtsman, etcher and ornament draughtsman
Sebald Beham received his training around 1514 in Nuremberg in the Albrecht Dürer circle, possibly even in Dürer's workshop. He later taught his brother Barthel, who was younger by two years. Starting in 1518, he produced numerous engravings and woodcut designs, some for handbills with texts by Hans Sachs. Beham developed into the leading artist of Reformation propaganda graphics. In 1525 the Beham brothers were briefly banished from the city together with Georg Pencz for their Reformist ideas and freethinking statements. Beham devoted himself to the creation of engravings of ornaments that served as patterns in contemporary applied arts. In 1528, despite a prohibition from the Nuremberg council, he published theoretical writings on proportions, wrongfully utilising prior works by Dürer. After 1531 Beham lived in Frankfurt am Main, where he worked for Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg and others. He became well-known for the Bible illustrations he produced in 1533 for the Frankfurt publisher Christian Egenolff. In 1540 he was accorded citizenship in Frankfurt. Again borrowing from Dürer's example, in 1546 he published his 'Kunst- und Lehrbüchlein Malen und Reissen zu lernen' (Learning Painting and Drawing). Beham's importance is primarily in the realm of graphics; in contrast to his brother Barthel, he is scarcely known as a painter. As a so-called 'Little Master', he numbers among the most productive draughtsmen and graphic artists of the Renaissance.