The painter, draughtsman and illustrator Tobias Stimmer (1539–1584) is regarded as the most notable Swiss artist of the 16th century, after Hans Holbein the Younger. Unfortunately, only a handful of his murals and paintings have survived, such that his name is familiar primarily in specialist circles. Nevertheless, the Kunstmuseum’s Department of Prints and Drawings (Kupferstichkabinett) houses an impressive fund of drawings and woodcuts by Stimmer, of which approximately 40 works are on display in the Graphic Cabinets (Grafikkabinette) on the first floor of the main building.
Many of Stimmer’s drawings are preliminary sketches for frescoes, woodcuts or stained glass artwork – the latter being particularly prevalent in Switzerland. Stimmer’s woodcuts not only came onto the market as single-sheet prints, but also served as illustrations for books. The artist worked for a number of book printers and publishers, such as Bernhard Jobin in Strasbourg or Thomas Gwarin and Pietro Perna in Basel, on a regular basis. The flourishing publishing houses published religious books, but also historiographies, portraits, satires and emblem books.