Schweizer Kleinmeister

The Swiss National Library (NL) holds numerous works by artists who are collectively known today as “Schweizer Kleinmeister” – Swiss minor masters.

The watercolour “Vue sur le Lac de Lugano” by F.W: Moritz dates from 1817.

The rise of tourism in the 18th and 19th centuries led to a boom in landscape and genre painting. The country’s natural attractions were seen as especially picturesque, its landscapes exhilarating and rich in contrasts. Growing tourist demand for pictures led to the success of the Schweizer Kleinmeister. The NL’s collection offers an overview of their wide-ranging work and also documents each of Switzerland’s cantons.

Content and scope

  • Views of towns, villages and landscapes from every canton of Switzerland
  • Depictions of local customs, costumes and festivals
  • Several thousand prints, hundreds of watercolours, drawings and gouaches, albums, series of plates, portfolios, panoramas and a small number of oil paintings

Collection principles

  • The collection reflects both documentary and artistic criteria.
  • Progressive acquisitions since the start of the 20th century in the form of major collections and generous donations
  • The collections are continually expanded.
  • The most important donation is the R. and A. Gugelmann Collection.

Research and access

  • A selection of the works are available as high-resolution images on the website “ – Souvenirs suisses”
  • Works from the R. and A. Gugelmann Collection fully catalogued in the HelveticArchives database; further Kleinmeister holdings are progressively being added.
  • Freely licensed digitised images on Wikimedia Commons and
  • Non-digitised works can be consulted on site (by appointment).

Last modification 21.09.2023

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

Print contact

Opening hours

by appointment