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Painting and Graphic Art

Portrait of Councillor Johann Jakob Thurneysen Schweighauser

Key data

dated 1781 Anton Hickel, Basle

Oil on canvas, 120 x 89 cm

Inv. 1969.374.


The portrait, painted shortly before the end of the Ancien régime, is a representative image of the upper stratum of Basle's commercial aristocracy. It is at the same time a state portrait, commemorating the administration of the city by this group. The ribbon manufacturer Johann Jakob Thurneysen (1729-1784) was 'Sechser zu Gartnern' (guild official) in 1767, master of the same guild in 1771 and a council member in 1784. In 1768-70 he was director of the merchants' association and from 1777-83 he was in charge of the postal service influential posts to which the ornate upper part of the frame, sumptuous by Basle standards, bears witness. The sitter wears the black habit prescribed for councillors, clerics and professors, with frilled ruff, lace cuffs, gloves and sword. A jewelled ring and furniture upholstered in silk damask are further attributes of his elevated status. The pretensions attached to the portrait are also expressed in the award of the commission to the Bohemian Anton Hickel, who painted princely and imperial subjects in Mannheim, Munich and Vienna.

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Basel Historical Museum
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