Portraits at the Burgerbibliothek of Berne


Salome Graviseth, nee von Erlach, 1623

Already in the 17th century, portraits became an important means of self-presentation for people of higher social and economic status. At first it was the Bernese patricians who demonstrated their privilege with their family portraits, but then the picture of oneself became an effective method of self-presentation of the emerging middle class, especially in the 19th century.

The Bernese portraits are an important focus of the collection of the Burgerbibliothek of Berne: the Paintings section, the Graphics Collection, the Photographic Archives and the private archives contain many different kinds of portraits from the 16th century until the present times.

In addition to its own collection, the Burgerbibliothek of Berne also maintains a rich photographic documentation on Bernese portraits from the 16th until the 19th century which are in private holdings, with public institutions or which have appeared in the art market. This unique documentation represents an important source for science and research.


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