Bernhard Strigel was born into a family of artists in Memmingen in 1460. His father (or uncle) Hans Strigel the Younger and his grandfather Hans the Elder were painters, his uncle (or father) Ivo Strigel presumably a carver and director of a prominent workshop. Around 1495, Bernhard Strigel married Barbara Kannengiesser; after her death in 1513 he took a second wife, who died before 1519. Bernhard is first mentioned in the Memmingen tax records in 1505. From 1512 onwards, he held a number of municipal offices and undertook various political missions. In 1516 he became the second most important person in the grocers' guild; after becoming a counsellor in 1517 and guildmaster in 1518, he alternately held the two offices in the city council up until his death. Between 1523 and 1525, he was sent to various cities and courts as Memmingen's representative: in 1524 he attended the Diet of Nuremberg. He died in Memmingen shortly before 4 May 1528.
Strigel is thought to have received his training from his presumed father, Hans the Younger. We begin to see evidence of his own work in the 1480s. By the mid-1490s he appears to have collaborated a number of times with Ivo Strigel, then around 1493 with Bartholomäus Zeitblom and another painter from Ulm on the high altarpiece for Blaubeuren. There were surely prior connections to Emperor Maximilian, who named Strigel his court painter and elevated him into the nobility, as the artist himself noted on the back of his 1520 portrait of the family of the humanist Cuspinian. Strigel's art combines elements from the late Gothic Swabian tradition with modern ones from the Renaissance, and draws inspiration from Dürer's engravings. He was valued above all, notably by the imperial family, as a portrait painter.