Johann Koerbecke is first documented in 1443 when he and his wife purchased his father's house in the northwestern German city of Münster. It has been suggested that Johann was born around 1420 and first studied with his father, Hinrick Koerbecke, or with another local artist in the 1430s before taking over the workshop when his father died around 1442. Unfortunately, nothing is known of Hinrick's work; he may have come from the nearby town of Coesfeld and was in the house in Münster by 1435.
Between 1453 and 1484 the younger artist is mentioned several times in Münster documents. He received commissions for several altarpieces, and often acted as a witness, as for example in a 1471 marriage contract or the 1484 sale of land involving the Cistercian cloister at Marienfeld. Around 1460 "Joannes Koerbecke, de meler" was listed as a member of the Confraternity of Our Lady of the church of Saint Aegidius. Koerbecke died in Münster on 13 June 1491; his necrology stated that he came from Coesfeld, a reference to either his birthplace or his family's origins. He was survived by his wife, Else, and his two sons, Hinrick and Hermann. His widow apparently maintained the house and workshop until at least 1495. Hermann followed in his father's profession while Hinrick became a cleric.
[Hand, John Oliver, with the assistance of Sally E. Mansfield. German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1993: 103.]
Sommer, Johannes. Johann Koerbecke. Der Meister des Marienfelder Altares von 1457. Münster, 1937.
Prinz, Joseph. "Urkundliches zur Geschichte der Malerfamilie Koerbecke." Westfalen 26 (1941): 99-102.
Kirchhoff, Karl-Heinz. "Maler und Malerfamilien in Münster zwischen 1350 und 1534." Westfalen 55 (1977): 98-110.
Hand, John Oliver, with the assistance of Sally E. Mansfield. German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1993: 103.