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Painting and Graphic Art

Miniature portrait of Jacob Burckhardt

Key data

Basel, ca. 1822/23

Gouache on vellum

Dia. 7.3 cm (portrait only), 11.7 cm (with frame)

Inv. 1965.65.


The great art historian Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897) was born in Basel on 25 May 1818. This miniature portrait shows him as a child of five or thereabouts with his head turned to one side, one hand resting on his hip and the other holding a hazel twig against his right shoulder. He is clad in a dark-coloured skeleton suit, which is what most well-to-do little boys of that era wore. His “Titus-style” haircut with the hair combed into his face is also very much in keeping with the times. In 1823 little “Jaköbisli” – as he was called in the family – wrote to his grandmother as follows: “Dearest Grandmama! I wanted to tell you only that I am in good health. I wish you, too, good health and a plentiful autumn, and for myself lots of sweet grapes.”

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Basel Historical Museum
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CH – 4001 Basel

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