Prints: overview

The Swiss National Library collects iconographic and graphic image documents on geography, history, politics, customs, culture and people from Switzerland as well as artistic works. Here you’ll find pictures of towns, villages and landscapes, people, historical and folk culture events as well as works by notable Swiss artists.

Elisabeth Grossmann
The aquatint “Elisabeth Grossmann. La belle Batelière de Brienz” by E. Locher was made in around 1815.

The holdings include collections of varying origin arranged by geographical area and topic as well as the archives of individual collectors and artists. There are large and important collections of Schweizer Kleinmeister, in particular the R. and A. Gugelmann Collection. Poster documents are held in the Poster collection, while the Art collection includes artists’ archives with original prints and drawings, for example by Karl Gerstner, Daniel Spoerri, Ulrich Meister, Emil Zbinden and others.

Content and scope

  • Views of places and landscapes from all cantons of Switzerland (around 28,000 sheets, matted and loose).
  • Scenes from Swiss history (around 2,700 sheets, matted and loose)
  • Depictions of folk culture such as customs, costumes and festivals (around 4,000 sheets, matted and loose)
  • Graphic works on military themes such as battle scenes, mercenaries, uniforms, weapons and equipment, etc. (war art, around 5,300 sheets)
  • Portraits of Swiss people and people important to Switzerland (around 15,000 graphic works)
  • Collection of artists’ graphic works of national and international origin (around 8,000 individual sheets)

Collection principles

  • The collections reflect both documentary and artistic criteria

Research and access

  • The HelveticArchives database contains at least summary descriptions of the collections, in some cases with details of the individual works (some with previews and digitised images).
  • Further information on the collections with summary descriptions available on request
  • Non-digitised works can be consulted on site (by appointment).

Last modification 21.09.2023

Top of page


Swiss National Library
Prints and Drawings Department
Hallwylstrasse 15
3003 Bern
Phone +41 58 462 89 71

Print contact

Opening hours

by appointment