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Painting and Graphic Art

View of the Rhine at Basle (detail)

Key data

Basle, ca. 1520/30

Pen drawing on paper, with watercolour wash

9 x 40cm

Inv. 1870.924.


The unknown artist shows the stately extension of the city, then numbering about 10,000 inhabitants, along the left bank of the Rhine, looking upstream. In contrast to the schematic depiction of 1493 in Hartmann Schedel's Weltchronik, here, for the first time, an artist shows topographical and architectural details of Basle within a coherent overall perspective. The embankment frontage, still impressive today in its unbroken sweep over more than 2 km, is punctuated by the towers of the medieval fortifications. The Kleinbasel side, without significant buildings except for the monastery of Klingenthal, projects into the foreground. The two parts of the city are linked by the old Rhine bridge in front of the towering Munster. An indication of the nearby Jura mountains with Mt Gempen places the city in its surroundings. The draughtsman may have known engravings by Albrecht Altdorfer; former attributions to Conrad Morand and Ambrosius Holbein have recently been questioned.

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