Collection supervisor

About the collection

The image collections at the University Library Basel comprise different historically developed collections and have a predominantly documentary character, focussing on the city of Basel, the University and its research. The focus of the collection is on the LaRoche image collection of topographical views with its numerous 19th century photographs from the Orient; the Jacob Burckhardt image collection, which has special significance for research in science history; the largest Ex Libris collection in Switzerland; as well as one of the largest portrait collections in Switzerland. Significant works include images by Felix Bonfils of Jerusalem, as well as a range of portraits of Basel professors and personages.

Portrait collection

Almost 10,000 portraits of Basel personages are documented with an image (subject to copyright) in the classic catalogue or swisscovery.

Further finding aids

The portrait collection at the University Library Basel is accessible via two local catalogues

  • Alphabetical portrait catalogue (card index)
  • Artists catalogue (card index)

Jacob Burckhardt image collection

The Jacob Burckhardt image collection is almost completely indexed and accessible via the HAN-catalogue.

LaRoche collection of topographical views and the University Library Basel’s art collection

The art collection and the LaRoche collection of topographical views are indexed in the classic catalogue or swisscovery.

Ex Libris collections

The University Library Basel owns several Ex Libris collections, which are each indexed in two local catalogues:

  • Owner catalogue
  • Artist catalogue

Portrait collection

The collection includes around 100,000 portraits from the 16th – 20th centuries, particularly photographs, lithographs and etchings. The focus of the collection is on Basel and Switzerland. In 1878, Benedikt Meyer-Kraus (1813-1889) gifted the University Library Basel his collection of almost 50,000 portraits, which he had collected over 50 years. These formed the foundation of today’s portrait collection. See also: "Die Porträtsammlung der Universitätsbiblithek Basel" (in German) by Dr Karl Schwarber.

Jacob Burckhardt’s image collection

Burckhardt’s image collection contains around 10,000 photographs and a large number of other reproductions (sketches, engravings, sheets from photographs, etc.). The traditional structure (123 folders, organised by the artists’ names or locations, in three call numbers) originates from Burckhardt himself. The collection is of great value to historical research because it offers a look into the academic work of art history around the 1900s, and documents the role of photography from this era in an exemplary way.

LaRoche collection

The LaRoche collection of topographical views is one of the most important photographic collections of landscape and city vedute before 1900. With around 2500 photographs, it documents the geography and the urban development of Europe, North Africa, the Near East and Russia up to the turn of the century. Particularly the photographs by Felix Bonfils of Jerusalem, Syria and Egypt emphasise the significance and the quality of this collection.


Art collection at the University Library Basel

The art collection at the University of Basel consists of paintings, photographs and printed graphics, medallions as well as sculptures, which were and continue to be added to the collection at the University Library Basel over the course of its 550-year history. The collection places its main focus on art objects which are connected to the University Library Basel and the University of Basel. Highlights of the collection include a portrait painting by Heinrich Wölfflin, prints by Niklaus Stöcklin, as well as various photo albums from the middle of the 19th century.

Ex Libris collection

The collection includes almost 70,000 Ex Libris from the 19th and 20th centuries. The main focus is the formation of Basel and Switzerland.


Images can generally be ordered directly via swisscovery or the HAN-catalogue. Depending on the amount ordered, the articles are ready after a few working days.

Important tips for the use and order of reproductions can be found here: