Basilius Amerbach the Younger

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Basilius Amerbach
Drawing of Basilius
Born 1 December 1533
Died 25 April 1591
Other names Basil Amerbach
Home town Basel
Family Amerbach

Basilius Amerbach (December 1, 1533 - April 25, 1591) was a lawyer, professor, and collector from Basel. He was the only son of Bonifacius Amerbach (de). After studying law from 1549-1560, he became a law clerk at the Imperial Chamber Court in Speyer. During this time, Basilius surprised his father by choosing to live with Jacob zur Glocke, a goldsmith, rather than a lawyer.[1] After one year as a clerk, he became a professor at the University of Basel.

Upon Boniface's death in 1562, Basilius inherited his father's Kunstkammer, or "cabinet of curiosities."[2] He expanded the collection of artworks, antiques, coins, and wonders. His additions to the "Amerbach Cabinet" also included the equivalent of "the entire contents of at least two goldsmiths' workshops."[1] Basilius took an inventory of his collection in 1586, which contained such notable items as an alleged unicorn horn[1] and fifteen paintings by Hans Holbein the Younger.[2]

From 1588-91, Basilius participated in the excavation of the Augusta Raurica, a Roman archeological site near his home in Basel.[3] He was the first member of the group of humanists researching the site to identify the colony's amphitheatre.[1]

His collection has been on display at the Basel Historical Museum, originally called the Haus zur Mücke, since 1671.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Smith, Pamela H; Beentjes, Tonny (2010-03-01). "Nature and Art, Making and Knowing: Reconstructing Sixteenth-Century Life-Casting Techniques". Renaissance Quarterly. 63 (1): 128–179. doi:10.1086/652535. ISSN 0034-4338. 
  2. ^ a b Chamberlain, Arthur Bensley; Holbein, Hans (1913). Hans Holbein the Younger. 1. Dodd, Mead. p. 85. In addition to examples of metal-work, ivory carvings, coins, and various objects of decorative art, the collection contained forty-nine paintings, of which fifteen were attributed to Holbein, a sketch-book with eighty-five studies, one hundred and eleven wood-cuts after his designs, the illustrated Praise of Folly, and two copies each of the "Dance of Death" and "Old Testament" woodcuts. Modern criticism has somewhat reduced these numbers. 
  3. ^ Hufschmid, Thomas; Pfäffli, Barbara (2015). Wiederentdeckt! Basilius Amerbach erforscht das Theater von Augusta Raurica [Rediscovered! Basilius Amerbach explored the theater of Augusta Raurica] (in German). Universitätsbibliothek Basel. ISBN 978-3-7965-3506-2. 
  4. ^ "Über das Museum". Retrieved 2016-04-15.