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Sculpture

Erasmus of Rotterdam

Key data

Basle, after 1536

Alabaster on red marble

diameter 27.5 cm

Inv. 1894.75.

Description

The profile portrait, encircled with the inscription ERASMUS ROTTERDAM[US], corresponds in form and size with the bust length portraits after antique models found in Renaissance tomb sculpture. There is, however, no evidence that links this tondo either to an unfinished project, or to the memorial of Erasmus in the Basle Munster that was made by the stonemason Hans Mentzinger in 1538 and was the first funerary monument erected in Basle after the Reformation (the cult of the dead had been abolished there from 1529). In this context it is worth remembering the memorial to Erasmus erected by the city of Freiburg im Breisgau in 1537, and that the only two portrait memorials to be made in Basle at the end of the C16 commemorated prominent scholars, who, like Erasmus, came from outside the city. The anonymous sculptor of this certainly posthumous portrait (Erasmus died in 1536) drew on the small woodcut by Hans Holbein the Younger that appeared in Froben's 1533 edition of Erasmus's Adagia.

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Contact

Basel Historical Museum
Management & administration
Steinenberg 4
PO box
CH – 4001 Basel

Reception: +41 61 205 86 00
historisches.museum(at)bs.ch

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