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Basel Historical Museum

Objects in the collection

Basel Historical Museum has a collection comprising over 250,000 objects. A selection of these is presented here.

The scientists, scholars and collectors of the 16th century and thereafter kept Wunderkammer full of spectacular objects and works of art. Among the treasures presented are some that originally belonged to the world-famous Amerbach Cabinet.

Discover further Swiss museum collections at Museums Online.

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Chosen Exhibits

Large winged altarpiece from St. Mary’s Church in Calanca (Graubünden)

Dated 1512; workshop of Ivo Strigel, Christoph Zeller and other masters, Memmingen – Linden wood, carved and painted, panel painting – H 375 cm, W 567 cm (open) Inv. 1887.95.

Mounted on a predella showing Christ with the twelve Apostles, the open altar chest …

Fountain (now lacking basin) from the Basle Fischmarkt

Basle, ca. 1380 – Red sandstone, originally painted, overall height 10.6 m, height of Madonna 128 cm – Inv. 1910.104.

The fountain at the Fischmarkt (fish market) in Basle was commissioned at approximately the …

Palmesel (Palm Sunday ass)

Lake Constance, ca. 1500 – Limewood, painted, height 190 cm – Inv. 1898.275.

The Museum holds the astonishing number of five Late Gothic Palmesel, or wooden donkeys for …

Symbol of Concord, cabinet for beakers

dated 1807 – Franz Abart, Innerschweiz – Limewood, height 137 cm – Inv. 1903.312.

This Symbol of Concord, as it is identified by the inscription on the rock, is a departure …

Memorial to Maria Magdalena Langhans, copy of the gravestone in the parish church of Hindelbank near Berne

Valentin Sonnenschein after Johann August Nahl, after 1775 – Terracotta – height 37.7 cm, width 25 cm, depth 9 cm – Inv. 1904.619.

In 1751 on the day before Easter, nine months after her marriage, Maria Magdalena Langhans, …

'Unis k jamais'

dated 1795 – Aubert Joseph Parent, Neuchâtel Limewood, diameter (with frame) 33.5 cm – Inv. 1931.25.

A scroll on the relief has the inscription "Unis à jamais" (joined forever) and the date …

Shieldbearer from the Basle Spalentor

Basle, ca. 1475 – Red sandstone, height 115 cm, width 83 cm – Inv. 1906.3617.

The armour clad man with a sword in his left hand and a shield in his right belonged, …

Three crucifixes (two unfinished)

Basle(?) or Upper Rhine area, ca. 1500 – Carved boxwood, partially painted, and carved limewood, heights 20, 18.1 and 18.2 cm – Inv. 1870.1185. – Inv. 1870.947. – Inv. 1870.948.

The three small crucifixes belonged to the collection of the Basle jurist Basilius …

The Holbein fountain

Basle, ca. 1545 – Sandstone with paint, height 497 cm – Inv. 1910.132.

The design of this fountain is related to the contemporary Pfeiferbrunnen in Berne made by …

Model for the handle of a dagger

Jamnitzer workshop, Nuremberg, ca. 1570/80 – Cast lead, height 11 cm – Inv. 1904.1339.

The two halves of the model were used to cast an octagonal handle for a dagger in bronze or …

The Crucifixion on the inside of the lid of a burse, from the treasury of Basle Munster

Follower of Stefan Lochner, style of Cologne, ca. 1456/60 – Painting on silk – 18.5 x 19.4 cm – Inv. 1905.3947.

The painting, applied directly, without priming, to the silk and unvarnished, decorates the …

Mercury abducts Psyche

Melchior Barthel(?), Ulm(?), ca. 1650/51(?) Ivory, height 28 cm (with plinth 58cm) Inv. 1894.421.

Towards the end of the C16, partly as a result of increasing trade with the East Indies, …

Domestic altar

dated 1484 – Upper Rhine area – Limewood, shrine with figures carved and painted, wings painted on both sides – height 36 cm, width (open) 56 cm – Inv. 1977.256.

This shrine, which is dated 1484 on the base, is a miniature version of a full scale winged …

The Crucifixion (after Grunewald) 'FE

southern Germany, 1627(?) Carved walnut, height 59 cm, width 29 cm – Inv. 1870.950.

The technical virtuosity of this carving is characteristic of a 'Kunstkammer' object. It is …

Erasmus of Rotterdam

Basle, after 1536 – Alabaster on red marble – diameter 27.5 cm – Inv. 1894.75.

The profile portrait, encircled with the inscription ERASMUS ROTTERDAM[US], corresponds in …


Hans Michel, Basle, ca. 1582 – Alabaster – height 17.2 cm – Inv. 1906.28.

The Basle collector Basilius Amerbach recorded in 1585 that the sculptor Hans Michel had …

Christ crucified

Martin Hoffmann, Basle, ca. 1525 – Carved hornbeam – height 43 cm – Inv. 1927.94.

In its moving expression of suffering this representation of the dead Christ ranks among …

Mary, Queen of Heaven

Basle, ca. 1480 – Limewood, originally painted – height 96cm – Inv. 1910.44.

This Madonna with the crescent moon at her feet is attributed to the Guntersumer family …

The Madonna enthroned with the Christchild

South west Germany, ca. 1370 – Limewood, painted in polychrome – height 96 cm, width 40 cm, depth 17 cm – Inv. 1913.104.

It had been standard practice since Early Christian times to represent the Mother of God …

Model for a frieze with triglyphs and metopes

Wentzel Jamnitzer, Nuremberg, 1570 – Cast lead, height 2 cm, width 8.2 cm – Inv. 1904.1468.

Goldsmiths' models of cast lead were made not only for jewellery, but also for the …

Bacchic group

Netherlands, 1st half 18th century – Cast lead – height 12 cm – Inv. 1906.2015.

This small group showing two fauns and two nymphs entwined in a bacchanalian dance …

'Anna Selbdritt'

Basle, ca. 1520 – Carved limewood, with remnants of painting – height 115 cm – Inv. 1927.217.

The medieval image known as Anna Selbdritt, or zu dritt (in a group of three) as it would …

A gentleman with the arms of the Zurlauben family

Switzerland, ca. 1625/30 – Limewood – height 23.5 cm, width 15 cm – Inv. 1870.1192.

In the early C16 relief portraits of persons of rank had already incorporated motifs of …

The Elector Johann Georg of Brandenburg and his wife Elisabeth von Anhalt, double portrait in a case

dated 1578 – Heinrich Rappusch, Berlin – Modelled wax in copper gilt engraved and lidded case – diameter 10.5 cm – Inv. 1874.66.

The art of making wax portraits flourished in the late C16 and was highly valued by noble …

Gem: Donkey playing the lyre

Roman empire, 1st century BC – Translucent orange cornelian – oval, height 13.6 mm, width 11.9mm – Inv. 1987.252.

It has only recently been possible to identify and interpret the gem illustrated here; the …

'Hauptergestühl' (stall of the council and magistrates) from the Basle Munster

dated 1598 – Hans Walter, Conrad Giger, Franz Pergo, Basle – Solid oak – height 814 cm, width 850 cm, depth 196 cm – Inv. 1914.626.

In appearance this monumental masterpiece of the art of woodworking in late Renaissance …

Ceremonial mace from the treasury of Basle Münster

Basle(?), probably C14 – Wood painted black, strip of silver, gilded copper, cut rock crystal – length 21 cm – Inv. 1870.624.

Fifteenth century inventories of the treasure of Basle Münster list several ceremonial …

St Ursula, four Virgin Martyrs and St Pantalus

Upper Rhine, ca. 1450 or 1472 – Limewood, painted in polychrome – height 30 cm – Inv. 1967.100.

Popular veneration of St Ursula reached a high point in the C15 with the production of …

Model for a pendant

South Germany, ca. 1550 70 – Cast lead – height 4.9 cm, width 4.5 cm – Inv. 1904.1575.

When the plague in Basle in 1576-78 wiped out numerous artists and also caused some …

Portal of the Haus zum Schwarzen Rad, Steinvorstadt 6

dated 1615 – Basle – Oak, sandstone – height 319 cm, width 265 cm – Inv. 1882.207.

During its extensive refurbishment in 1615 the Hans zum Schwarzen Rad in Steinvorstadt was …


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