Born probably in Meersburg on lake Constance approx. 1410. According to the extant documents, in 1442 he was living in Cologne. Attribution of works of masters is made possible by the entry in the diary of dürer, where it is reported that visiting on the way to the Netherlands Cologne, he saw in the Cathedral the altar, says, "master Stephen".
Lochner is regarded by art historians as the chief master of the Cologne school. For artists of this school characteristic lyricism and softness in the interpretation of sacred images. The most significant work is the altarpiece from the Cologne Cathedral is "the adoration of the Magi". Lochner died in Cologne in 1451.
When dürer in October 1520 on the way to the Netherlands stayed in Cologne, he wrote in his diary about the consumption of 5 pfennings for permission to look in the chapel of the town hall painting "Master Stefan of Cologne". This reference has allowed to establish that the author panels, moved in 1810 to the Cathedral, Stefan Lochner, and thereby to rescue from oblivion many years of the famous Cologne painter of the XV century and Its name was first mentioned in Cologne in 1442, and for the last time in 1451, the year the black plague, which was, perhaps, the cause of death of the artist. He was a member of the city Council, which testifies to the respect which he enjoyed among the citizens. The document, which he named "Stephen from Constanta", suggests that he was a native of Swabia.
Creative evolution Lochner and remains unclear today. Probably it was formed in Upper Swabia, in their homeland, however, no documentary evidence of this not found. He then appears in Cologne, where perceives the local pictorial tradition. After a visit to the Netherlands where he was influenced by the art of Jan van Eyck and especially the Master of Flemalle, he remained in Cologne for 30 years. In accordance with medieval tradition, none of his works are not signed, but two of them dated: 1445 - fold of the altar of the virgin, depicting "the Nativity" (on the back - "the Crucifixion", Munich, Alte Pinakothek) and "Bringing in the temple" (on the back - "the Stigmatization of St. Francis", Lisbon, fond Gulbenkian) and 1447 in the Central part of the altar TS. the Teutonic order "Bringing in the temple" (Darmstadt, the Museum of Hessen). Thanks to these two dates to establish chronology and other paintings of the artist.
The extant works of Lochner opened the image of St. Jerome (Raleigh, North Carolina Museum) and the altarpiece "the last judgement", located mainly in TS. St. Lawrence, in Cologne (the Central part depicting "the last judgment" - Cologne, Museum Wallraf-Richartz; inner sash, representing the "Martyrdom of six of the apostles" - Frankfurt, Stazewski art Institute; external doors with images of saints - Munich, Alte Pinakothek). Attribution "SV. Jerome" has long remained controversial, but the Flemish features of this pattern allowed us to attribute it to the early work of the artist. The altar is executed later. The division of the valves of 6 different scenes subordinated to the medieval canons and altars reminiscent of the beginning of the XV century and the Central scene is a combination of independent episodes. Although Lochner introduces many innovative elements. Figures imparted a completely new freedom, they move at ease and alive. Never before has the human figure - Nude, in profile or from behind, and an image of the gestures were not so interpreted by the Cologne painters. All parts are written with equal attention, and the contrast between the realistic elements, resulting from the observation of nature, and the granularity of the ensemble, encourages you to attribute this triptych to the initial phase of the activities of Lochner, that is, 1435-1440.
The large altarpiece "adoration of the Magi" (Cologne Cathedral), which allowed the identification of the artist, was probably executed shortly after 1440. The Central panel depicts the scene of the "adoration of the Magi"; on the doors you can see two patron saints of the city and their entourage. On the outer wings presents the "Annunciation" in the interior, a tightened brocade and with a wooden ceiling. The figure of the virgin, kneeling on the bench, slightly turned to the angel who carries the message to her. Lochner gives the whole scene greater restraint; the composition is very simple and easy to read. There was nothing left of timid attempts image perspective and the space transfer characteristic of the altarpiece "the last judgement". Refusing the accessories, the artist seeks to Express the essence, especially in the Central scene, monumental and stylistically rigorous. The group of Magi and their retinue, freely arranged around the figure of Mary seated in the center. Lochner is not depicted or the architecture or the landscape, its theme is the characters themselves, is monumental and powerful, and they occupy all the space of the picture. They are depicted as simultaneously objective and idealized. Objects, figures, costumes are presented with a profound interest in a pleasant and rich individual traits of style. Special care masters became a single composition. Mary and two wise men, kneeling in front of her, fit in the triangle; for them there is a procession, in the midst of which emerges a strongly backlit silhouette of the third king. On the wings of these groups continue in the figures of the patron saints of the city and their entourage. Now the artist is interested in creating a single composition, which are subject to all of the details.
The next step was the painting "Bringing in the temple" (1447, Darmstadt, the Museum of Hessen). In composition it is close to the Central part of the "adoration of the Magi". The scene is marked only by the altar which occupies the middle of the picture. The characters form a group, symmetrically located on either side of the altar. The void that separates them, is of particular importance as staggering in the depth of the figures of Joseph, Mary and Simon. Location of figures in space podcherknuto small figures of children.
Compared to painting vitsa or Mulcher, art Lochner does not carry anything innovative. Indeed, the artist is very timid suited to the new problems that developed two masters of space and landscape. Committed to Cologne tradition, he attached to these issues of secondary importance. He was more interested in the free transmission of the movements of the characters accentuate the garments and individual traits. The subtle colour gives his paintings a delicate lightness and solemnity; no angles or sudden movement does not interrupt the calm and collected atmosphere. However, while Lochner and remained loyal to the Cologne traditions (e.g., "Master of Saint Veronica from Munich"), but he is far superior. It opens the art of the big tracks, wide spaces and large forms. "Madonna in the arbour of roses" (Cologne, Museum Wallraf-Richartz) - the last work of the artist, in which his ideals are combined with the Cologne tradition. The figure of the Madonna, surrounded by angels, forms the center of the composition. Slightly inclining her head, the Madonna is sitting on the lawn. Angels, who gracefully played their instruments, emphasize the solemn calm and collected the entire scene. In this picture, again reveals the same artistic language, which was typical for the Master of Saint Veronica.