A German painter, printmaker and draftsman, Beham was born in 1502. He studied under his elder brother, Hans Sebald Beham and Albrecht Dürer. In the 1520s, he was particularly active as an engraver, creating small technical works of great detail. At some point in his career he may have worked with Marcantonio Raimondi in Rome and Bologna.
In 1525, Beham was banished from Lutheran Nuremberg for asserting that he believed in neither Christ nor baptism. He moved to Catholic Munich, where he found work with the Bavarian dukes William IV and Ludwig X. He was soon thought to be one of Germany's greatest portrait painters and was commissioned by such luminaries as Emperor Charles V. Beham died in 1540 in Italy, on a trip sponsered by Duke William.