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Thurneysser Superstar

A unique Cycle of Stained-glass Windows, 1579

HAUPTBAU / 13.11.2010–13.02.2011 / Curator: Bodo Brinkmann

Trained goldsmith, mining proprietor, physician, alchemist, pharmacist and astrologer – the skills and professions of Leonhard Thurneysser zum Thurn (1531–1596) from Basel are no less astonishing than the story of his life. Starting out as a small-scale debtor, he ended up a prodigally wealthy man. When the successful world traveller came home in 1579, he had the Zürich artist Christoph Murer create a unique cycle of stainedglass windows for his residence in Basel. The cycle glorifies Thurneysser’s life in a manner generally reserved for saints and princes. Two windows and a fragment of a third one have survived along with three preliminary drawings. In the 16th century the citizens of Basel took a skeptical view of the project. Today, however, Thurneysser’s biography reads like that of the ultimate dynamic entrepreneur. So, how do we now perceive this 16th-century superstar from Basel and his commitment to art?