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Painting and Graphic Art

Portrait of an unknown Basle woman

Key data

Basle, ca. 1680

Oil on canvas, 79.5 x 66.7 cm

Inv. 1990.344.


The Museum acquired this half length portrait of a Basle woman, perhaps 30 years old, from the auction of the Vischer collection from Schloss Wildenstein in London in 1990. Probably it was once accompanied by a now lost pendant of her husband. The portrait is striking for the presence of the subject and her beauty, emphasized by the omission of the usual background accessories by the painter perhaps Gregor Brandmüller, who was much in demand in Basle in the later C17. "La belle Bâloise", as one might call her in imitation of Nicolas de Largillieres's portrait, "La belle Strasbourgeoise" of 1703, is shown wearing the costume befitting her class, which was strictly controlled by sumptuary laws. Typical elements are the wide hat, called a "Schifflein" (little boat), commonly worn from about 1680 to 1700; the ample use of furs at the collar and sleeves - only marten was permitted, not sable - and the gold necklace with several strands. Comparisons enable the portrait to be dated about 1680.

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Basel Historical Museum
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