Basilius Amerbach the Younger

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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.

Basilius Amerbach
Drawing of Basilius
Born1 December 1533
Died25 April 1591
Other namesBasil Amerbach
Home townBasel

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.