Lucas van Leyden, contemporary of Dürer, found in the engraving, more than in painting, the best form of expression of his art. His prints were spread far beyond the Dutch borders and became a model and source of inspiration for other artists. His engravings obtained great appreciation and market as testified in a letter of Johann Cochleaus, an anti Lutheran theologian, that wrote to Willibald Pirckheimer, a friend of Dürer, in 1520. In this letter he asserted that at the Frankfurt Fair the prints of the young Lucas were even more required and more sold than those of Dürer himself.
In 1521, now rich and famous, Lucas left Leyden and moved to Antwerp, a major center of cultural life in full economic expansion, able to attract artists from all parts of Europe. Here Lucas intensifies his engraver activity producing refined works in which he masterfully fuses the burin technique with that of the etching, as no one before him had been able to do.
In his compositions he reflects, in addition to the influence of Dürer, also that of Italian artists who he had learned about mainly through the study of Marcantonio Raimondi prints and engravers at his school.
In 1521 in Antwerp he met Albrecht Dürer for whom he felt the deepest admiration and the two artists, who esteemed each other, exchanged on that occasion several prints. As reported in 1604 by Karel van Mander in his “Book of the painting”, at thirty-three Lucas van Leyden, eager to know the artists of Brabant, Zeeland and Flanders, rented a boat outfitted with everything needed for a long trip, as if he had a great personality. Soon, along the path to the waterways, he met the famous painter Jan Gossaert, called Mabuse, who accompanied him for the rest of the trip. The two competed in lavishness and opulence by hosting lavish banquets with the artists of the cities that they met along their route.
From this trip Lucas returned sick to Antwerp and did not recover anymore. His artistic activities suffered due to persistent fever until it ceased altogether, but his prints, for a long time even after his death, were much sought.
Several artists of northern Europe were deeply influenced by the genius of Lucas, as Dirk Vellert (Master of the Star), Frans Crabbe, and also Mabuse. Throughout the sixteenth century Lucas van Leyden was a reference for all the graphic work of the Flemish Master engravers, of the Netherlands and of northern Germany.