Painter, block-cutter, commercial artist, draughtsman, design draughtsman and writer
Born into an Augsburg weaving family, Breu became an apprentice in the workshop of Ulrich Apt the Elder in Augsburg in 1493. In 1496 he left on his journeyman's travels for Austria, where he painted elaborate altarpieces for the monasteries in Zwettle and Melk and for the Aggsbach charterhouse. In 1502 he settled in Augsburg as a master. Breu was involved in the painting of the Fugger Chapel in St Anne's, in wall paintings for the city hall and the Fugger house, and the border drawings in the prayer book of Emperor Maximilian I. In addition, he drew designs for woodcuts and stained glass. Breu described the urban and religious life in Augsburg in a chronicle he kept from 1512 until his death. In it, he showed himself to be a supporter of the Reformation. At first he was still wholly indebted to the late Gothic tradition; however, his later work shows an increasing acceptance of Renaissance elements that can possibly be attributed to an Italian journey but that were certainly influenced by the works of Hans Burgkmair.