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The Holbein fountain

Key data

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 the Fribourg sculptor Hans Gieng. The Holbein fountain, also known as the Sackpfeiferbrunnen (bagpiper fountain), owes its popular epithets to the figures which decorate it. The unknown artist has made precise transpositions into sculpture of compositions invented by two famous painters and graphic artists who had connections with Basle. The three pairs of peasants cheerfully dancing around the center of the column are taken from a woodcut titlepage by Holbein of 1523 and the bagpiper crowning the fountain is taken from an engraving by Dürer of 1514. The fountain originally stood at the Spalen-Schwibbogen, then from 1859 nearby in the Spalenvorstadt, where a copy has now replaced it.

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