With the rise of the classic "grand tour" among the European nobility in the 17th century and - mainly from the mid-18th century onwards - the upper middle classes, the Schweizer Kleinmeister began producing drawings, watercolours and oil paintings that captured Swiss landscapes and characteristic genre scenes. The work of the Schweizer Kleinmeister from the mid-18th to mid-19th century offers a rich insight into the landscape and culture of Switzerland at the time. It is therefore of continuing relevance today, both for art and cultural history and for the natural sciences. As those artworks were sold to travellers passing through Switzerland, their dissemination throughout Europe shaped the typical image of Switzerland that abides to this day.
The original Gugelmann Collection comprised some 1,600 individual prints, 130 albums and series of plates, over 130 books with original prints and a small number of oil paintings of select quality that ideally complemented the NL's own holdings. This unique collection is continually being expanded with significant new acquisitions, and constitutes the essential core of Swiss iconography. The Gugelmann Collection has been catalogued in the HelveticArchives database. The digitised images are all in the public domain and have been uploaded with a free license to Wikimedia Commons, the free media file repository of Wikipedia, and opendata.admin.ch, the pilot portal for open government data, where they can be re-used without restriction.
Access to the collections on appointment; an advanced reservation is required.
Introductions to the print and drawing collections for schools or groups on appointment.